Comments from in-house lawyers, businesspeople and buyers of legal services are the lifeblood of the Chambers & Partners directory research.
Every year Chambers receives thousands of client references from law firms eager to supply the research team with people they think will speak positively about their firm and its lawyers.
What happens to this data goldmine?
It’s always surprised me that Chambers hasn’t done more with such valuable information.
After all, with the exception of a few trade and professional associations, there can’t be many organizations with as much comprehensive up-to-date information on who is buying sophisticated legal services.
Part of the issue is that when Chambers speaks to clients, it reassures them that what they say is confidential and not attributed.
On Chambers’ part, there is the fear that if clients think the information will be used for other purposes, it may make them more reluctant to comment, and that in turn will undermine the integrity and effectiveness of the research process.
So the published editorial commentary is laced with anonymous comments and quotes.
But who are these clients – and what do they think?
One way Chambers has addressed this issue is by expanding its program of events aimed at in-house lawyers.
The idea is to give some voice and personality to the otherwise mysterious clients that feed into the research process.
Chambers managing editor Catherine McGregor is leading the initiative.
I caught up with Catherine this week and she told me more about her plans to shine the spotlight on general counsel and the in-house community.
“By hosting these seminars with in-house counsel, we aim to address some of the most topical issues that practitioners face today. The events fall into two main types: compliance and regulatory focused, and specialized areas like investment funds, which have been popular. In all cases, we try not to be overly technical. The aim is to offer a practical session, not an explanation of the letter of the law – but how it is applied.”
The GC Seminar series was conceived in 2011, and the first one took place in 2012, but the number and regularity of events has increased as Catherine devotes more time to the initiative.
The usual format is a panel discussion comprising in-house lawyers, with one or two private practitioners, sometimes from a sponsoring law firm.
Attendances regularly top 100 people, mostly other general counsel and in-house lawyers seeking to learn from their peers.
Upcoming events include:
- Thursday, May 16 2013, London: “Sponsor-Backed IPOs: IPO Exits of Portfolio Companies”
- Tuesday, May 21 2013, New York: “Hackers Are After Your Data!: Practical Ways To Reduce Data Security Breach Exposure”
- Tuesday, June 4 2013, Houston (pictured): “Challenges in Creating An Effective and Coordinated Global Compliance Program”
The most recent event was held in Washington D.C on April 9 2013 and looked at the implications of Dodd-Frank’s whistle-blower provisions.