A groundswell of dread and opposition is growing among law firms against the ongoing joint survey by Best Lawyers and US News. Current online discussions are calling for a total boycott.
There are 950 surveys and rankings of law firms already, which have an imperceptible impact on business development. Since my days as an in-house marketer in the 1990s, the survey questionnaires were despised. US News plans to survey 3,000 law firms encompassing 40,000 lawyers and 20,000 clients.
A well-known Cleveland marketer wrote:
"Reasons why NOT to participate (if you need the ammunition)...
1 - We already have well-established, reputable mechanisms for this through CHAMBERS, BTI, ACC and other sources (for best law firms) and the Annual AmLaw Associate Survey, Vault and other sources (for best law firms to work for).
2 - This takes a great deal of lawyer, client and staff time to participate (check out all of the online forms--they want info from the firm, from clients, and from associates).
3 - MOST IMPORTANT: How many times do you really want to reach out to YOUR BEST CLIENTS to have them hounded by a third-party for a rating? If you participate in Chambers or other programs, you will likely be going to the same clients."
In email messages back and forth, leading CMOs also expressed anger at the American Lawyer profits-per-partner reports. "IMHO it's one of the most harmful lists/metrics out there, driving 1000s of crappy business decisions at law firms across the U.S," one CMO wrote.
A marketer from California added, "How about boycotting any organization that emails a request which is the equivalent of “if-you-don’t-respond-to-our-survey-request,-we-will-use-statistics-from-other-nonrelated-sources.”
A Boston marketing consultant wrote, "For those firms that use client surveys, you might try asking your clients (or even some prospects if you survey them in focus groups) how much weight these "best in show" pieces carry with them. I suspect not much."
Research by Acritas shows that only 3% of legal work is influenced by legal directories and rankings.