Q. How does The Legal 500 do its research?
The client research undertaken for The Legal 500 has two main threads and encompasses both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Each year we write to firms inviting them to provide information on their specialist areas of practice and requesting specific details of work undertaken in the preceding year (some of which will be confidential and not in the public domain). This approach gives us a standard level and quality of data which, in turn, enables us to benchmark legal services providers with both more precision and more assurance.
We conduct interviews in person or by telephone with specialist attorneys in each subject area – generally the head of department or nominated partner. We also conduct interviews with chief executives, managing and senior partners of law firms, and practice managers. This helps us to obtain a clear picture of the direction the firm is taking and its strategy.
We contact 300,000 clients asking for feedback on the lawyers they instruct. Additionally, our team has regular contact with commerce and industry throughout the year as part of our ongoing research. Although interviewees are often in-house counsel, they are by no means exclusively so; in many cases it is the chief executive or finance director who has strategic responsibility for the buying decision, even where it is the in-house function that may have more day-to-day dealings with the actual providers. We interview investment bankers, commercial bankers and accountants who work regularly with lawyers.
Interviews are based on a standard-form questionnaire. However, supplementary questions and more wide-ranging conversations about both specific law firms and the key issues which inform the purchase of legal services are in fact the norm. This is not least because interviews are conducted by experienced journalists and researchers with a considerable depth of market knowledge. All interviews are non-attributable. Over the course of the year, we also receive numerous unsolicited comments and recommendations from clients.
As well as contacting those clients referred to us by law firms for the purposes of verification of their submissions, we benchmark these findings against a detailed representative sample of the world’s leading companies. In particular, we ensure that we have contacted a statistically valid sample of leading clients when ranked either by market cap, by business sector, or by region.
Q. How do you rank law firms?
When reviewing the performance of a firm or department we use various criteria; our focus is on the bench strength of the team (including partners and associates), and the consistency of quality of the individuals within the team. Our assessment will be influenced by all the things that make the complete practice in that field. Areas that are considered include (but are not limited to):
- Very strong technical ability available for the most complex and innovative work
- Most prestigious clients
- Individuals with the contacts at, and credibility with, the top clients
- In-depth capability beyond star partners
- Capacity for the biggest transactions/cases
- Market share
- Historical track record on top deals/cases
- Clear investment for the future in a particular practice area
- Progress made with acquiring new clients/ market share
- Strength in associated areas – eg can an M&A department undertake competition work to an equal standard?
- Reputation for handling complex, innovative deals
- Capacity to handle all client requirements in an area – eg international offices/connections
- Commitment to IT and the use of IT to improve client services
- Perception in the market.
Q. Can we use The Legal 500 logo in our marketing?
We encourage firms and sets to use the recommended logos on their web sites, email signatures and marketing materials, and where possible, to credit www.legal500.com as the source. Logos can only be used by firms, sets and individuals who have been recommended as part of our independent research in the editorial sections of The Legal 500.
Top Tier Firms: a firm that is listed in the top tier of one of our tables can use these logos.
Leading Firm: a firm listed in one of our tables can use these logos.
Leading individual lawyer: any individual recommended as a “leading lawyers” can use these logos.
Next Generation Partner: any individual recommended as a “next generation partner” can use these logos.
Rising Star: any individual recommended as a “rising star can use these logos.
Recommended Lawyer: any individual recommended in our editorial text can use these logos
Q. Can we access previous years’ rankings?
All historical data, showing firm and and selected editorial for the past 5-13 years is available as part of a firm profile package on our Historical data website (data varies from region to region; data includes all firm rankings tables; individual recommended lawyers are included within the text but are not listed in tables).
Q. There are broken weblinks in the text
If there are broken or non-functioning links, please contact us.
Q. The editorial text contains errors
If there are factual errors then please contact us.
Q. What if our specialist practice area is not listed in The Legal 500?
We do not accept Law Firm Submissions or Client Referee lists other than for the practice areas listed for that particular edition of The Legal 500. See the list of practice areas, for each of the various editions, here.
If you think we should add a new practice area for future edition, then please contact us.
Q. We are not happy with our firm’s ranking. How are the rankings calculated?
It is impossible for our editorial to meet the aspirations of every firm and we know that there will always be firms that feel their abilities have not been properly recognised.
Please understand that our editors and researchers use their own judgement. They take into account a wide range of factors (including, but not limited to, Law Firms Submissions, Client Referee feedback, work handled, market feedback, client satisfaction scores, and historical performance).
We welcome constructive criticism and critical feedback. If you think we have got it wrong then do contact us (and set out the justifications for why you think we are wrong). We do not, however, enter into correspondence about our rankings and our editorial commentary.
If you would like further analysis of your submission, editorial ranking and position in the market, we have a range of reports that can be commissioned before, or after, publication of the rankings. Please contact Tim Verbrugge for further information.
Q. If we don’t provide a Law Firm Submission, will we still be in the rankings?
Law Firm Submissions are an important part of our editorial research process. If you don’t provide us with background information, then we have to rely solely on publicly available data. In practice, this means that a firm that does not send us a Law Firm Submission is unlikely to feature as prominently in our editorial and in our rankings.
Q. Can we speak to an editorial researcher?
We speak to many firms but we cannot speak to every firm. In practice, it is the Law Firm Submission and the Client Referee list that are important to our researchers – that usually provides them with the core background information they need. If they need to speak to an individual lawyer then they will email.
So our advice is to focus on ensuring your Law Firm Submission is as comprehensive as possible, and that your Client Referee lists contains as many referees as possible.
Q. How can we be part of The Legal 500?
The first step is to provide us with a written editorial Law Firm Submission. You can upload that to us via The Legal 500 Portal. You will need to register to use the Portal – apply here. You should also send us a list of Client Referees that we can contact (to request their confidential feedback)
Please refer to the editorial Submission Guidelines for advice on the information we ask for. There should be a separate Law Firm Submission, and Client Referee list, for each practice area you want to be considered for.
Q. Does a practice (or firm) have to be a certain size before it can be editorially recommended?
No. However, the size of the team, and its strength and depth, are among the factors which the editorial researcher will take into account when assessing a practice against its competitors. Others include the quality of work handled, the calibre of clients, referee feedback, and the reputation of individual practitioners. But a small department can still be worthy of recommendation in The Legal 500.
Q. What is the difference between Editorial and Sales?
The task of the editorial team is to research the legal market, practice area by practice area; to assign rankings to firms’ practices; and to write accompanying editorial. There is no cost associated with making an editorial submission. Our editorial is independent and we do not give preferential treatment to advertisers.
The sales side of The Legal 500 relates to the paid-for firm and partner profiles. The profiles are written by the firms, not by The Legal 500.
The editorial and sales sides operate independently. Some firms pay for profiles but are not recommended in the editorial. Others are recommended but choose not to take profiles.
If you have any queries regarding sales, you should contact Amy McDermott.
Q. We think we should be recommended. What do we do?
The editorial research is based on firms’ written editorial submissions, and follow-up research with firms and their referees. The first step is to provide us with a written editorial Law Firm Submission. You can upload that to us via The Legal 500 Portal. You will need to register to use the Portal – apply here. You should also send us a list of Client Referees that we can contact (to request their confidential feedback)
Please refer to the editorial Submission Guidelines for advice on the information we ask for. There should be a separate Law Firm Submission, and Client Referee list, for each practice area for want to be considered for.