The second in a series of interviews with movers and shakers in the legal media world, held at the Legal Marketing Association conference in Las Vegas in March 2017. See the first one with Legal 500’s David Burgess.
LP: Can you introduce yourselves?
EP/KM: Elizabeth Petit, research director and managing editor, Best Lawyers. My department is responsible for the research that comprises all the rankings for lawyers and law firms around the world. And I’m Katie Morgan, the media relations manager for Best Lawyers. That entails handling all the public relations and marketing for Best lawyers and Best Law Firms.
LP: So the big thing I see is that you revamped your website at the end of 2016?
EP/KM: That’s correct. We felt it was important to treat 2016 as a year of internal development. We wanted to reevaluate Best Lawyers position in the market and transition to a more digital-friendly platform. Our methodology has stayed the same for 30 years. None of that has changed, but we felt the time was right to rebrand to a more user-friendly site as we see the industry move towards more digital publications rather than print media.
LP: What has been the reception?
EP/KM: Strong. We have seen excellent feedback from firms and lawyers who like the new look and the new profiles, and we are actively building the site to be friendlier to consumers by expanding new sections such as legal insights.
LP: So, Legal Insights is where the firms supply their own content?
EP/KM: Right, so lawyers that write articles can have them featured on the Legal Insights page. In addition, people had been asking for some years for a news page, so we have a news section on Best Lawyers. They may not necessarily be written by the firm, but articles describe recent news at the firms.
LP: What else is in the pipeline. What do legal marketers need to be aware of this coming year?
EP/KM: For our clients right now, we are actively reviewing feedback for both lawyer and firm rankings. Firms will be informed of the next edition of lawyer awards in early July and will learn their full Best Law Firms rankings at the end of July. For the first time, we will release all firm rankings to firms at once, instead of staged by tier announcements.
LP: So, you do Best Lawyers, but you also have the relationship with US News & World Report. What’s happening with that?
EP/KM: So, we continue to work successfully with US News. We’re very happy with our relationship with them, and are brainstorming what our next step will be in this partnership. Additionally, we just launched a newly designed, responsive “Best Law Firms” website
LP: Best Lawyers is known mainly as a US company, but you’ve been expanding internationally for some years. Can you give us an update on what’s happening overseas?
EP/KM: We are expanding into law firm rankings internationally as well, something we have traditionally done with the US only. We started in Germany last year, partnering with Handelsblatt to produce our first German Law Firm of The Year award, and we are working to unveil those in other select markets. We started with nine countries last year, the bigger legal markets, to build out law firm rankings.
LP: What are some of the common things that legal marketing people do/don’t do? What are your gripes?
EP/KM: The thing I hate to hear the most is that someone had a question or was frustrated by something and didn’t tell us. Because often if they had communicated with us, there’s something we can do. An example is a lawyer who isn’t recognized. The first thing is to ask us why they weren’t recognized. We can give you a lot of information. Are they nominated in too many specialties? Are the votes spread too thin? We will give firms this feedback, but they don’t always come to us first. Anybody who calls our main line will be answered by a research editor. That person will often be able to answer your question, or if not will pass you the right department. We make sure that everyone who that answers the phone is a research editor and can deal with your issues.