Make your legal directories content count

As we continue to grapple with a global situation and an economy that we couldn’t have imagined six months ago, marketeers and business developers within the professional services sector have a key role to play.

Events are being reimagined and redefined for an online audience, and we are seeing huge amounts of content shared. Different strategies are emerging, from the panicked ‘everyone else is publishing masses of guides, we need to do that too’ to considering what value really means to a targeted audience.

Ultimately, taking a strategic approach to maintaining and promoting a firm’s values and reputation, protecting key client relationships and engaging in considered business development with content that will resonate and not sound out of touch, will stand firms in good stead.      

How do you demonstrate your capability and value?

Last week, The Legal 500 published the latest EMEA guide. It was great to see a number of good news posts on LinkedIn celebrating results.  The posts that caught my eye were those that recognise and acknowledge the importance of their client relationships – directories are a team effort requiring the support and feedback of clients and peers.

In our previous white paper, ‘Legal Directories: Are they still relevant?’, we found that more than half of law firms surveyed believe they don’t get the rankings they deserve and 84 per cent are frustrated with the time it takes to make a submission. Like all businesses, law firms are under significant strain and pressure and there are reservations about meeting submission deadlines and asking clients to act as referees. However, rankings and the accompanying editorial remain valuable from a strategic BD perspective – helping firms differentiate themselves; reaching a variety of audiences from GCs to domestic and international referrals; helping attract and retain top talent and providing content that can be recycled and reused for other BD activities.

So where firms can, use this time to focus on strategic projects that provide maximum value and don’t throw away the good work that has already gone into your submissions. Directories researched and compiled well provide a rich source of content for bids, tenders and pitches to updating online CVs and web content. The process is also an invaluable audit of each practice area within the firm.

Our experienced team come from a range of backgrounds including lawyers and in-house BD specialists to former directories editors and researchers. I asked them to put themselves in the shoes of law firm BD teams at the moment, and share their views on getting maximum value from recent results and from their directories content.

Clients are key

Take the recent Legal 500 EMEA results, if you’ve done well thank your clients. It’s a chance to reach out and say thank you and, more importantly, ask how they are doing – personally and professionally. Hopefully, most firms are doing this intuitively, and BD teams can support lawyers to keep in touch with their clients – not selling, but actively being a true partner to our clients (a promise often made in pitches and tenders).

Strategic audit

Every practice has a view of where they should be ranked but it’s important to be objective. Rather than go through the same hoops each year with your submissions, take this time to gain an external review. Did you really nail the key messages around what makes your team stand out and, more importantly, did you provide evidence?

One of the most enjoyable and valuable parts of writing a submission for me is the scoping – what do we do differently that adds value to our clients and how can we evidence this? This is not just the basis for a great submission but should be standard practice when approaching or pitching for any new work.


Where you can, seek feedback from the directories. You put huge amounts of time and resource into submissions – there are few other instances where you’d just accept a result if you really believed it wasn’t correct. Be concise with your questions and focus on key practice areas though, rather than having a general rant.  

Look forward

I’ve read a lot about how it shouldn’t take long to compile a submission, and in theory if you know what you’re doing, it should be straight forward. But for those of us working at the coal face, coordinating multiple submissions and herding teams of lawyers to get the information you need can be a complete nightmare. This is going to be the case now more than ever.

The solution: a robust process of gathering content through the year that can be used across bids and tenders as well as directory submissions. Many firms talk about gathering content earlier than two weeks before the deadline – so use this time to get processes in place that work for your teams. Get help if you can – an objective assessment can add huge value and embed both a strategic way of thinking and of gathering key data and information.

If you’d like our help auditing your most recent directory submissions or bids and tenders, or a discussion around your processes and how you can make improvements going forward please get in touch.

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