The legal directories – are they relevant?

I took part in an IBA webinar last month, titled: ‘Legal Directories: the bane of lawyers’ lives, or the way to the stars.’ You can listen here if you missed it.

There were a dizzying number of people from around the world checking in for it – lawyers and business development staff that identified as being from Kent, Berlin, Manila, Brazil, St Petersburg, Massachusetts, France, Pakistan, Lisbon, Lithuania, Zambia, Paraguay, Slovakia, Bogota, Norway, Athens, Indonesia, Malta…

Directories like the Legal 500, whose publishing director David Burgess was also on the panel, and Chambers & Partners will be heartened that interest in the directories is so keen. And no wonder – David was able to reference 4.6m users of the Legal 500.

Legal directories long ago ceased to be a cottage industry. They are now a big part of lawyer and marketing professionals’ lives right across the globe.

The IBA is recognising the level of that interest next week in Australia, when the IBA Law Firm Management Committee Business Development Working Group, which I chair, will make it the subject of a panel discussion.

Everyone has views on the directories, which made us think it was worth doing an independent study of them.

Ahead of Sydney, MD Communications gathered the views of over 200 private practice and in-house lawyers, and business development staff from jurisdictions, in all regions of the globe, on how the directories are used, what they like about the process and where the directories could improve.

The result is a whitepaper, intended to spark discussion as well as giving readers an insight into how the market as a whole sees the directories. 

We’ll make the paper accessible to all, but thought it worth sharing a few of the insights from an initial sweep of the feedback.

  • The Legal 500 and Chambers are dominant, though Who’s Who Legal, Latin Lawyer and IFLR all fit well into the directories landscape and have acknowledged roles.
  • Foreign clients more often use the directories to find lawyers, especially in unfamiliar jurisdictions. Otherwise, they are a useful way to validate or check choices.
  • The experience levels of researchers is claimed as a problem by many, though most respect the rankings.
  • The resource dedicated to directories submissions is massive – people simultaneously balk at the commitment, but still do it.

What was the main message from our research? Well, going by the response, people who are involved with directory submissions want to know what their peers think – to share basic experiences and to hear war stories. As a consultancy, we can relay some of those insights.

We hope this paper will do much more – giving insights from across the legal sector. Watch this space for our findings.

If you’re interested in attending the panel discussion, it’s on Wednesday at 4.15pm at the IBA conference in Sydney. Copies of the whitepaper will be available at the panel discussion.

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