Do Chambers Ratings Matter? NO

Chambers USA lawyer directory`Now law firm marketers can toss the vaunted Chambers directory on the heap with the soggy yellow pages dumped on their driveways, Superlawyers  and the 950 other surveys and rankings of law firms.  Statistically significant evidence proves that all of them generate little to no new business for law firms.

Researchers at Acritas recently surveyed 500 leading general counsel — arguably the main target market for the directories — and found that only 5 per cent considered the directories relevant in making decisions on instructing external lawyers for specific pieces of work. Only 3 per cent said that they have been influenced significantly by information in the directories, according to Acritas, which is based in London and New York. (See chart below).

Acrtias Research on Use of Legal DirectoriesAcritas has been making its findings public since 2007 -- see Only 3% of Legal Work is Influenced by Directories -- but law firms still continue throw away money on directories. Everyone knows that directories are published as profit-making ventures that prey on lawyer egos.  Clients hear about lawyers by word of mouth and recommendations, profile law firms using Google, and hire attorneys with whom they have a relationship. Lawyer directories and rankings do not factor into the hiring decision.

Somehow, Chambers attained a self-importance that exempted it in the minds of law firm marketers, from the reality that it doesn't make any more difference than other directories. The Times of London skewered Chambers and the nail-biting of marketers trying to get listed by Chambers.


Here's an excerpt of the Times' article, Law directories: a benchmark of success or simply nice to have?


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Comments (6) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Zohar Fisher - March 21, 2010 12:28 PM

True, we see a decrease of law firms and potential clients looking into the Chambers ranking, and comparing law firms.
For myself, as a legal marketer from Israel, Chambers is not one of the major legal guides, but still- we should not forget 2 factors, in my opinion:
(1) the Media factor- the financial media is running after every new legal ranking publication. They always have to write something in the legal section of the paper, and if it's comparison between law firms- the better...
(2) the Ego factor- even if this legal ranking is not that accurate and not that specific- the Senior Partners of law firms wants their names to be on the first row in different practice fields. Therefore, they will walk the extra mile to be there, and if they are- they will send emails to clients, friends and relatives, showing off their 'credentials'.

Leigh - March 22, 2010 7:38 AM

My response to your post is this:

While methodologies differ in the various publications, I do know of several major companies that don't hire attorneys unless they are listed in a certain U.S. peer-review publication. It's kindof the same thing as "word-of-mouth" when you see that a lawyers' peers think highly enough of them to provide positive feedback on their work.
As far as the ego part; yes, some lawyers' egos are massaged by these accolades, but many times I think they should be. Also, firms HAVE generated business from them - that's the bottom line. Even you have your "selected Top Blog" badge on your page and I congratulate you for, and agree that you deserve, that accolade.

Andre - March 24, 2010 4:44 PM

Acritis confirms what most of us already knew but it is interesting to see it all out there. Just a question, what benefit does Acritis get for publishing such a survey slamming Directories? Of interest, these listing, while themselves are skeptical, certainly (and here is where I agree with Leigh above) make for solid content on your firm's website. Thanks for this article Larry. I'll share it with other for sure, but I would like to know the motives or funding behind Acritis.

Response from Larry Bodine: Acritas sells custom research to law firms. To highlight their capabilities, they also conduct research that they make public, like the info about legal directories.

Mindy - April 6, 2010 7:30 PM

I have this argument with my colleagues all the time; to me these directories are like the "who's who" solicitations everyone got in high school. The only person it benefits is the person cashing the check for the advertisement.

Tracy Timby - August 15, 2010 9:02 PM

I have to agree about the ego factor that Zohar Fisher discusses above...SO CORRECT. I will only add that the more sophisticated of those senior partners are going to show their credentials off using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook as opposed to just emails

Richard Pettet - March 24, 2011 1:54 PM

In response to Mindy, for many years i was that person cashing the check (sic) for advertising. It was fun.
On the topic, though, Larry continually misses the point about legal directories and Chambers in particular. I remember several years ago he posted a similar blog about only 3% of in-house counsel instructing on the back of legal guides. I believe he quoted Mark Messing. Being a client of ours, we asked Mark about the post and he stated that he was misquoted. His firm also continued to advertise in Chambers, despite the article saying it was worthless. Larry also always lumps Chambers in with Martindale, when they are entirely different. Anyway, much like Larry likes to put a badge on his site pronouncing him an "Honoree" of the ABA Journal BLAWG 100, lawyers like to have the badge of recognition that Chambers et al give them through their research. They also use legal directory quotes and stats for pitches, websites, and all manner of marketing material. I'm not saying that legal directories are perfect, but they have their place. In my opinion.

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