You can't charm directory researchers - it is about getting the process right

Consultant Alex Holtum argues that prioritisation is the key to maximising directory rankings

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The key to maximising law firm directory rankings is a systematic approach to the submissions process that focuses on the areas that matter most.

That is the advice given by consultant Alex Holtum in a Q&A video published by The Global Legal Post today in which he says attempts to win over researchers through flattery are doomed to failure.

"You have to follow the process, tick the right boxes, get references to respond, put in the right information about work highlights and if you don't, you won't get the rankings you deserve," says Holtum, who is hosting an online Global Legal Post course on 28 April on how law law firms can maximise their directory rankings. "In the past people thought you could charm the researchers into ranking them higher; maybe once upon a time you could but that's certainly not the case anymore."


Holtum, director of International Law Firm Solutions (ILFS), was speaking in the aftermath of the publication last month of the Chambers and Partners European directory and the run up to The Legal 500 Europe, Middle East and Africa directory, which went live yesterday (14 April).

He says the key to success is successfully lining up referees – an inherently challenging exercise – and making sure work highlights are well presented, with details about their value and complexity. Other factors, such as lawyer profiles, which some firms can spend 'an inordinate amount of time on', are less important, he maintains.

Holtum also argues that the directories add welcome transparency to the law firm selection process, even if some firms say they are not that accurate.

"One test is that every time you ask a firm about the rankings by and large they say, 'well, we're disappointed with our own rankings but the rankings of other firms are pretty accurate'," he says. "They are far from perfect but they are much better than the world was before them."

The sheer scale of the research process is underlined by The Legal 500 EMEA editor Ella Marshall in her introduction to the EMEA directory’s 2021 edition, which ranks 2,700 law firms across 80 countries. ‘Each year, The Legal 500 series contacts over 300,000 clients globally to obtain feedback on which law firms meet the criteria required by today’s in-house counsel and business leaders, wherever in the world their work takes them,’ she writes.

Click here to book your place on The Global Legal Post Masterclass: Building an effective and efficient directory submissions strategy. Email [email protected] for further details.

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