Organization is the key to legal directories management.
Law firms are generally better organized when it comes to directories than they were 10 years ago.
But many firms still do not have a proper directories infrastructure in place.
What do I mean by this?
A key starting point is a central repository where all legal directories-related materials and resources are stored for the benefit of the firm as a whole.
It’s not rocket science, but it does take some thought, planning and time to put in place.
Once it’s up and running, however, it’s a valuable resource that more than pays for itself in time and efficiency savings.
Before I set up a consultancy, I worked in-house within the marketing teams at two large law firms.
At both those firms, one of the things I did was establish a “directories zone” on the firms’ intranets where anyone could access related materials.
More recently, as a consultant, I’ve helped other firms do the same thing.
Why do this?
Every day at White & Case, which at the time had 120 people globally in its marketing team, I would receive a couple of emails or calls from people asking for a copy of a particular submission, or survey form, or some best practice material.
Or one of the practice area business development managers was looking for some third-party quotes for a pitch, and did they have some juicy editorial commentary or accolade lists for attorneys x, y and z.
Sometimes it was a director or partner in the firm putting a review together or presenting to someone, and could they have some analysis of how the firm had done in the directories.
The requests were relentless, and it is no exaggeration to say it ate up an hour or two of my time each day – on top of all my other work.
I thought if I created a useful internal space, people could access a lot of this information themselves.
Part of the problem is that legal marketing people hop around firms frequently, and they don’t always share or store information centrally so that colleagues can access it once they’ve gone.
If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me “we can’t find submission x because person x left the firm last month” I would be a millionaire.
In large firms, where staff turnover is high, incoming staff often struggle to lay their hands on the right documents.
Law firms use a variety of different technologies, so it could be an intranet, document management system, or a third-party cloud-based service.
Whatever it is, make sure your firm has a dedicated central space to store all legal directories materials.
Make sure that everyone places their material there, and they don’t hoard it for themselves.
Assign someone to keep it updated, and chase team members for their materials.
Here is a basic list of what should feature in the “directories zone”:
- Go back as far as you can; at one firm I worked with, we had submissions going back 15 years
- Label the documents correctly (sometimes the name of the directory is a year ahead of when you prepare the submissions)
- Use a clear and consistent naming convention so the documents are indexed in the right order, and be easily found and retrieved
- Break it down by directory type and region
Surveys & Awards Entries
- Add all your entries for awards, individual accolades, surveys, websites, and listings
- Don’t just include the publications the marketing team works with; look to HR and other departments that lead on other industry surveys, say, those covering law schools and hiring practices
- Add your entries to league tables and data/information providers like Mergermarket, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, and other specialized publishers focused on certain practices and industries
Rankings & Recognition
- Summaries and analysis of your firm’s rankings in different directories over the years
- Include the rankings, year-on year progression/comparisons, and editorial commentary
- Some practices like to prepare specific lists for their groups, with quotes that can be used in pitches, brochures and capability statements – include these as well.
- All awards, accolades, and individual achievements won
- A calendar of key dates for the year ahead: submission deadlines, research periods, publication dates
Best Practice Material
- Any resources you have internally: things like submission templates, submission guidelines, interview preparation notes, style guides, sample submissions, sample/suggested emails to contact clients for references, policy guidelines regarding level of engagement with different publications
- Store copies of all advertisements and promotional pieces you have written for third-party sites – such as firm-wide or practice-wide profiles and individual biographies
- Include firm authored articles for directories, handbook chapters, publications, and magazines.
- It’s good to add press clipping and other media coverage
The overall idea is to share and make as much relevant information as possible available to those who might need it.
It does take time to find all the documents and organize them properly (a Summer intern helped me at one firm), but it’s a wonderful resource once it’s up-and-running.