Ranking services form a critical part of the law firm landscape in CEE as around the world, and law firm marketing and business development functions in the region spend many weeks or months each year preparing their submissions for those ranking services they believe are most widely read and influential. Still, not everybody is convinced the ranking services are as effective or valuable as they could be. Thus, for this issue, we asked the law firm marketing and BD experts around CEE: “What one change would you most like to see made to the law firm rankings to make them more useful/effective?”
Dora Turjan, BD Coordinator, Lakatos, Koves & Partners
The directories should rethink their in-built bias in favor of “familiar names,” which, in this context, means big international firms and regional firms which, by reason of their size alone, generally have better-developed brands. Clearly most of those firms are good and will provide good service in the countries in which they operate. However, the consequences of this bias are that the leading national firms, also good and able to provide good service, get disproportionately limited coverage. This is particularly obvious in two respects: First, the apparent reluctance to give a Tier One ranking to national firms, and second, the almost complete omission of national firms from the regional rankings, awards, and so on (e.g., the Chambers Global CEE regional section).
Olivia Popescu, Marketing & PR Manager, Maravela | Asociatii
Since you completely refuse to consider “They should rank us higher!”, I hereafter send my second-best choice, which is not exactly a change, but rather an add-on: I would like to see a size reference next to ranked firms (e.g., the number of lawyers). This would come in handy for prospective clients who are in some cases searching for firms of certain sizes and could be additionally relevant in explaining some attributed rankings.
Biliana Tzvetkova, Business Development and Marketing Manager, Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov
International law firm rankings might become more useful if they reflect not only the long-term development and presence of law firms on a certain market but also take into account smaller and younger firms’ efforts and accomplishments in existing or new practice areas. Only in this way can global legal directories like Legal 500 and Chambers be acknowledged as a trustworthy source of objective ranking of the world’s best lawyers and law firms and thus could become an effective tool for legal counsel.
Jovana Draskovic, Marketing Manager, Bojovic & Partners
I would like the addition of a new ranking factor, since it seems in many cases that client feedback and the scope of work do not provide the whole picture. I would add “general satisfaction of employees in the law firm” as an additional category for the ranking. I believe that employee satisfaction significantly shapes the organizational culture, which in turn represents a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that governs how people behave in organizations, ultimately contributing to their effectiveness.
A high level of employee satisfaction arguably contributes to providing better service to clients, since fewer employees leave, [meaning] fewer new employees need to be hired and (re)trained, [making] the team more cohesive, and clients tend to invest more trust in such law firms.
Florian Unterberger, Press Officer Austria, Baker McKenzie
Reduction of efforts via standardization of requirements/data structure and the creation of an electronic interface (instead of uploading Word, Excel or PDF documents).
Dominika Tluchowska, Marketing Manager, Allen & Overy, Poland
If I could recommend: (1) Better filtering options & more comparison tables; and (2) Quicker search functionality (i.e., websites working faster).
Ekaterina Maeva, Marketing Manager, Vlasova, Mikhel & Partners
First of all I need to say that in general I’m totally satisfied working with ranking guides and thankful to them for doing this rough job. We think all these rankings are a good challenge for law firms.
But it seems to me – and my experience demonstrates – that they should be more transparent and careful in their assessments. Very often it is hard to understand why they rank one law firm higher or lower than another. We have such a situation in the dispute resolution practice in [one of them] now. I talked to [the relevant] editor last year (after the release of the 2016 rankings) regarding this situation and upon her advice tried to prepare the best-ever submission for the dispute resolution practice for the 2017 guide … and as a result we got a worse ranking (not for the law firm, but an individual lawyer).
They should also be more careful with the information they review and lawyers they assess. They sometimes mix up names, persons, and practices (even if all the information in the submission is right and they received additional notification if there are any changes). In one case they ranked one of our lawyers in the same practice area twice because she had changed her last name (and I had told them about it). And, you know, when I asked them to merge those two rankings into one, they didn’t fix it – they just changed the spelling of her first name. So we still have two rankings for one person (under different names)!
What else? I understand that it can be difficult to get feedback and receive new opinions from referees, but that’s not a reason to rewrite the same words year after year.
And one more thing! It’s not about rankings but about the editions. Their prices publishing profiles are too high! It would be great if they had a price ladder depending on size of the firm and market it works in.
Nora Guba, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Szecskay Attorneys at Law
I would love a fact sheet of the “Deals of the Year” describing the biggest/most important market deals of each practice and sector area in every country, with details from the clients on both sides (each side if possible), the list of law firms involved, and their exact role. You can put these pieces together from the maze of information included in the rankings, but I believe it would give a clearer picture and a good overview.
[I] also think that they should separate independent law firms from the multinationals and rank them separately. It isn’t a level playing field otherwise.
Oksana Buchatska, Marketing and Business Development Manager, DLA Piper Ukraine
For international directories: I find it’s useful if they ask both parties of the matter – both clients and market participants – for feedback. I like the recently launched products based on big data – including historical data, deal data, profiler, etc. – very much. These are very useful for in-depth analysis. If we talk about one thing to change, I would suggest considering expanding their sectoral approach as they do in other jurisdictions and also cover IT, tech, media, life sciences, etc. So far, in Ukraine we have IFLR covering energy and infrastructure, and Chambers covering energy only.
Asli Moral, Business Development and Client Relations, Moral Law Firm, Turkey
International legal research institutions duly perform their duties. Both client referrals and other law firm’s remarks, news in the press, and online data tracking help them to analyze law firms. In my point of view, in order to perform a crystal-clear analysis of law firms as well as the relevant country’s legal market one thing can be added to the research agenda: Organizing site visits to law firms’ headquarters or holding video conferences with Managing or the relevant department Partner as we are in a digital age. That will supplement the research, which will bring more accurate results. I strongly believe that this change will solidly assist researchers in becoming closely acquainted with us and more aware what is going on with our hot agenda!
This Article was originally published in Issue 4.5 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.