One of the reasons I enjoy working with legal directories is that I support the basic principle of an aid to help people find the right lawyer.
Strip away the process, the mechanics, the methodologies, how you arrive there – the concept underlying legal directories is to help those seeking to buy legal services find the lawyer or law firm that’s right for them.
Buyers benefit from any product that enables them to identify suitable advisors in a market that, despite a recent burst of consolidation, remains highly fragmented.
And providers of legal services use directories to bring themselves to the attention of discerning buyers who might not otherwise know about them, to highlight their expertise, and to differentiate themselves from other firms in the market.
“Complacent”, “lazy”, “arrogant” were some of the accusations thrown at firms and their business development staff by dissatisfied inside counsel.
From a directories perspective, there’s a few interesting angles.
One in-house lawyer hinted that some firms had an over-inflated sense of importance, saying:
“Law firms shouldn’t simply rely on their supposed reputations and their positions in the directories.”
More importantly, the survey reminds us just how crucial it is to pick your client references carefully when preparing directory submissions.
No lawyer, advisor, or consultant will keep every client 100% happy 100% of the time.
There are often niggles.
On the privacy of a phone call with a researcher from an independent legal directory, clients’ inner frustrations often come spilling out, and they have a habit of not saying what you – the lawyer – wanted them to stay.
You can never know completely but if you have any reason to think the client might not be pleased with your service, don’t include them.
Poor feedback is worse than no feedback at all, so don’t take chances.
Negative feedback is a killer, and will hamper your chances of entering or moving up the rankings.
If you are already ranked, it will likely mean a downward move, or even dropping out completely.
Maybe the client quibbled over the bill, or questioned how you staffed the case, or you fobbed them off with an associate after reassuring them that a partner would lead the deal.
Or my personal bugbear: you weren’t responsive.
Some clients are just awkward customers.
If you are a private practice lawyer and you have any doubts at all about a client’s reliability as a reference, don’t include them.