The company has more plans.
To find out more, I met with Lawdragon founder Katrina Dewey, and Catherine McGregor, in London last week.
Katrina formed Lawdragon in 2005 in Los Angeles.
Previously she edited the Daily Journal, the leading legal news title in California.
And she was no stranger to legal lists, having worked on them since 1989.
One of Lawdragon’s flagship products from the start was the Lawdragon 500, a list of 500 leading lawyers in different areas of practice.
Unlike some other legal surveys and directories that emphasize their research, Lawdragon 500 adopted a features-led approach, using stylish photography and well-written profiles to produce a magazine-style appearance.
(The latest edition of the Lawdragon 500 is pictured below)
Four Lawdragon 500 lists were published in the company’s first year, including the core Lawdragon 500 of leading lawyers in the United States.
As you might expect in plaintiff-heavy California, the publications often featured some of the big names at that bar.
However, Lawdragon has always enjoyed good relationships with larger defense firms as well.
Katrina said that getting Evan Chesler, the managing partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, on the front cover of the second edition helped to give the new publication some early credibility.
The leading appellate lawyer, Seth Waxman, also graced one of the early covers.
There were other innovations, such as a well-received list of the top legal consultants.
It seems like the market is full of consultants now, but back then there was less information available as few consultants had websites, and there was no social media.
A bold move was a list of the top judges.
In journalistic style, there were also scoops, such as when Lawdragon editor John Ryan broke the story of Bill Lerach’s fall from grace.
When I first became aware of Lawdragon in the mid-2000s, I associated it mainly with California.
The company still has staff in Los Angeles, but New York is now the base office.
Lawdragon has featured 450,000 listings to date, although Katrina pointed out that it was never her intention to become solely a legal directory.
“We are first and foremost a media company, and our motto has always been to do something ‘fun, fresh and newsy’”
So what’s next?
Lawdragon Insight Guides
The Lawdragon Insight Guides are the latest initiative, and will be led by Catherine McGregor.
Announced my new project last night Lawdragon Insight Guides. First one is on Private Funds. Very excited. Watch this space…
— Catherine McGregor (@CatMEditor) September 10, 2013
Three are planned in the first year, and each will feature detailed practice and insustry-focused rankings, features and analysis.
“There will be a mixture of metrics and editorial. We will look at the hard facts – what lawyers have worked on, not just the subjective parts,” says Catherine.
One of Catherine’s achievements at Chambers & Partners was establishing an in-house counsel program, and some of the same inside counsel focus will be applied to the new Insight Guides, as buyers for legal services are interviewed about their external law firm relationships.
The first issue, focused on private funds, is slated for late February 2014.
Clients such as general counsel, chief operating officers, and the heads of investor relations at the funds, will receive a free copy.
True to Lawdragon style, the guides will be published in hard copy form as well as online.
The coffee-table book feel of Lawdragon guides will be evident, likely with black-and-white-photography and high production values.
On the web, there will be layers of access – some free, some subscription-based.
After an introduction, which will be partly written by a client contributor, there will be an overview of trends and developments in the practice area, and detailed editorial commentary of the featured firms.
On average, each law firm will get around three pages of editorial coverage and analysis.
“As well as the stars and established names, we’re looking closely at younger lawyers and associates,” added Catherine.
Boutique law firms are also a focus.
“Often boutiques find it harder to make headway in traditional directories and
publications because they lack the marketing infrastructure and budgets of the larger
Law School Report
On top of the Insight Guides, Lawdragon announced a major initiative in August to provide better information to aspiring law students.
“Our nation’s future lawyers need to understand there is no one best law school for everyone,” Slade said.
“We will provide applicants with the information and tools to determine which schools are optimal for them.”
Potentially a rival to US News, which dominates law school rankings, Lawdragon’s guide will offer “more nuanced search and commentary,” said Katrina Dewey.
“We’ve been working on this for two years and are really excited.”
The initiative, which Lawdragon says is the largest ever survey of lawyer satisfaction with their careers and education, will reveal which law schools have the best employment rates in the states where those students want to work.
(Pictured at top: Lawdragon CEO Katrina Dewey, right, and Chief of Strategic Development, Catherine McGregor, left, outside the company’s new London office in Floral Street, Covent Garden)