It’s always been something of a mystery why the directories haven’t moved more aggressively into this space.
After all, they have everything in place: the research infrastructure, relationships with most of the world’s law firms, and armies of staff.
Crucially, they are in the enviable position of having law firms do all the heavy lifting by voluntarily sending them details of hard-to-find clients – tens of thousands of emails and phone numbers of lawyers and businesspeople within companies around the world that instruct lawyers.
In most businesses, if you want information to build a survey audience or a list, you have to go and find it yourself, or pay someone to do it.
Not so for the directories, who just sit back and watch the names of clients flood in from law firms eager to have those clients say warm things about them.
So, what do you do with this treasure trove, much of which, beyond the better known general counsel, is not public or hard to obtain.
Chambers has successfully established its “Confidential” report series – now called “Chambers Unpublished” – an “under the hood” account of the law firm feedback that doesn’t make it to the publicly available version of the directory.
However, Chambers hasn’t done much lately on the survey front.
A number of years ago, Chambers ran an annual “Who Acts For Corporate Britain” survey, showing which law firms acted for which companies.
It was hugely popular among law firms, but slipped away after a few years.
(American Lawyer does something similar in the US market)
Now Legal 500 has ramped up its focus on surveys with the launch of a dedicated unit.
More than 10 dedicated research staff have been hired, and they operate separately from the main Legal 500 directory research team.
Dominic (pictured) told me that Legal 500 is close to publishing its first survey.
“We have interviewed more than 4,500 in-house counsel from over 100 countries. To our knowledge, this makes the Legal 500 client intelligence report the largest piece of research of its kind in the market.”
The interviews with in-house counsel and businesspeople that purchase legal services broadly break down into three parts: the operational issues and challenges they face; the nature of their relationships with external counsel, based on 16 performance indicators; and an analysis of the market.
When it’s completed, Dominic said that it is likely that some information will be free for in-housers, but private practice law firms and other users will have to pay a fee.
There will be a dedicated website where you can filter the results in various ways, say by industry sector, and produce customized reports.
Reflecting a renewed focus on the in-house community, Legal 500 also launched GC Magazine in 2014.