Don’t let your referees be a spanner in the works

We work with many law firms around the world and frequently hear low referee response rate as the reason for a lower-than-expected legal directory ranking.

There is a lot more to referees than filling in the spreadsheet. Here are our top tips to get the most from your referees and turbocharge your submissions:

  • Include referees from your key matter highlights who will attest to the quality of the team, but also the leading lawyers put forward for individual rankings. This is particularly important for talented associates and junior partners, who may not yet have carved out a strong reputation among peers but may garner high praise from clients.
  • Only use referees who you have worked with during the year being researched. The last thing you want is a referee telling a researcher that they haven’t worked with you for a while, but they have been using another cracking firm.
  • Pick referees who are most likely to respond to the researcher’s email. Naming the CEO of a blue-chip company might sound like the way to go, but what are the chances that they’ll prioritise and action a researcher email?
  • If there have been any issues with service delivery, don’t use that client. Even if the issue has been resolved, the risk is there Instead focus on that client relationship and the lessons learnt and measures you can put in place to avoid issues in future.
  • Don’t fatigue your referees. We frequently see firms using the same referees across multiple submissions or name several individuals within one client organisation. Rankings are important, but don’t risk fatiguing key client relationships by recycling your referee lists. Remember that you can include non-client referees as part of your list. Consider intermediaries, referrers, other professionals in your sphere who will speak highly of your work and balance out the strain the referee process can sometimes put on client relationships.
  • Following on from the last tip – stop treating the referee process as a standalone admin task and instead build it into your relationship management and client care programmes. The referee process offers an excellent ‘listening’ opportunity which if you fully utilitise will provide significant value wider than just getting a client quote listed in the directories. We can help you with this, get in touch to discuss.
  • Speak to your referees early in the process. Explain what you’re asking of them (highlighting how much you value the work you do with them) and why their testimony is important to your team/individual ranking. A word to marketing and business development teams, don’t let partners tell you it will be fine to seek approval retrospectively. You risk the client feeling taken for granted and put upon, and you look disorganised, particularly if other firms have managed the process smoothly and asked them weeks in advance.

Once you have submitted, remember to keep in touch with your referees during the research period, and once you know who the researcher will be let you referee know they will be in contact and to keep an eye out in their inbox (and their spam filter!) for their email.

Download our guide on referees

If you’d like any support with your directories submissions, whether you’re already ranked or looking to be, our expert team can help.

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