A couple of years ago I did a piece about why legal directory profiles – at least for some of the more traditional products – hadn’t changed much over the years.
They have moved on since.
Legal 500, for example, now has a series of tabs that provide richer content on its profiles.
Have a look at the one below – you can see the firm has tabs for press releases, client testimonials and its student program, as well as the usual firm and practice information.
Other Legal 500 profiles have spotlight interviews with partners.
Chambers has now overhauled the way it presents firm profiles by moving them front and center to a prominent position right next to Chambers’ own editorial commentary.
At first glance, it might not seem such a bold move, but I think it’s significant.
Previously the profiles were buried back a few layers so you had to click through from the editorial commentary a couple of times to reach the firm’s profile page.
I imagine the number of people clicking through to the profiles (other than the firm itself) was fairly low.
Here’s the old design:
Now that the profiles are placed more visibly on the main page, they will get seen by many more people, so their value rises.
The new design:
The move partly addresses the view that law firms have had for some time which is that paying for profiles is more of a “relationship management fee” than something which has value in and of itself.
The move is also very much in the tradition of Chambers and other research-led directories, which is to provide the reader with two different but complementary pieces of information: firstly, what we (the directory) say about your firm, based on our own independent research; and, secondly, what firms themselves say.
In other words, take this information together as a whole, and decide whether this is a firm you want to hire.
That’s the purpose of a directory: to enable prospective buyers of legal services to make a more informed choice.
The other interesting development is that the profiles are no longer just a single entry covering the whole firm.
Firms can now provide a series of “mini profiles” tailored to each practice.
You can complete and update these through your firm’s online dashboard so there’s no old-fashioned back and forth with paper proofs.
Most firms have yet to complete these practice profiles but that will change over time as they become familiar with how it works.
Firms will not want empty white space next to their commentary, so there’s an incentive for them to complete (they’re free of charge).
Here’s a blank one:
Here’s an example (from the same section: New York: Bankruptcy) of a firm that has already completed some of the practice information.
The reader can then see at a glance what Chambers has said (on the left) and what the firm itself says (on the right).
Another clever aspect of this move is that it enhances the “value add” of the submissions.
With the time and effort going into submissions reaching all-time highs, firms increasingly want to see a bit more bang for their buck, and extract as much value as possible from the documents.
To this extent some of the early adopter firms are taking information from their written submissions and transporting it over to the practice profiles – for example, sample client lists, and practice-specific overview descriptions.