I have been dealing with directories and submissions since 2004 and never have I seen a pure reference ranking beginning to shift towards a full research method.
Just so that we are on the same page – what is a reference ranking? Such rankings do not collect extended information about a law firm’s cases (matters) and simply base their evaluation of law firms on a questionnaire.
That questionnaire usually consists of such complex questions like “What law firm do you find best” or, even more in-depth, “What lawyer do you find best – You can name yourself”. No argument is needed if you name a law firm.
That and the lack of in-depth analyses of a law firm’s cases is why the Law Firm Rankings Report does not include reference rankings in our list of Gold Standard Rankings.
Gold Standard Rankings conduct an extensive analysis of a law firm cases. Typically, law firms can submit up to 20 such cases (=matters) per (!) legal field to the ranking and make a researcher there very happy.
Imagine my surprise, then, when my team showed me the following new part of WWL´s process:
It almost looks like a baby Chambers submission, and as it is with children, I sincerely hope that it will continue to grow into a full-blown matter collection machine – but hopefully without the terrible structure of IFLR. If WWL reaches such a state, I would then recommend a participation to law firms.
That shift in WWL is remarkable. Nobody would be messing with a well-oiled machine. I can only assume that the message about the huge difference between reference and research rankings is finally becoming common knowledge in law firms – and their clients. That would serve as quite the motivation for reference rankings to change their model.
I indeed hope that WWL will join the ranks of Legal 500 and the likes. It would be a considerable signal to the market on what to think of pure reference rankings.
Right now WWL makes submitting matters “entierly optional”. But, I think there is more to come since the full WWL info says: “We are now collecting details of work highlights and invite firms or individuals who wish to put forward details of their recent work to do so. Currently this is limited to transactional work, but we will soon be expanding it to include litigation and regulatory matters as well.”
Article by Alexander Gendlin
For support with your submissions to Chambers, Legal 500, IFLR 1000 etc., please go to Chambers & Co – Improvement with submissions in law firm rankings / directories | Law Business