Toby Eccleshall, who is due to take over as Chambers USA editor, was kind enough to answer a few questions this week.
When does your new role start?
I officially take over as US editor on May 1 2017. Until then, Laura Mills (the former editor) and I will be handling everything together.
What’s your history at Chambers?
I joined Chambers & Partners in 2013. Initially I worked on the US directory, and also spent time on the UK directory. I was a researcher for two years, moved up to deputy editor in 2015, and now US editor.
What’s the current structure of the senior US editorial team?
So, I will be overall editor. We plan to have six deputy editors. Jane Pasquali, Christopher Teevan, and Peter Whitfield are currently US deputy editors and have been with the company for some years. Vian Chowdhury is the most recent addition to the team, having been a deputy for about a year. Then we plan to promote two further senior researchers to deputy editors shortly, as we had someone leave the team recently. We like to promote people from within, as you need to have done the job for a while to really understand the research process.
Do the deputy editors have areas of focus?
There’s no formal structure. The team is fluid and works across firms, sections, and states. However, each of us has developed areas of interest and expertise. For example, I have always done a lot of litigation and capital markets during my time as a researcher and deputy editor. Peter Whitfield is our financial services regulatory expert. Our areas of interest are not formalized externally though; it’s just that when we divide up the work internally certain people gravitate to certain practices.
Are there any changes planned for this year’s US guide?
It’s a bit early to say. At the time of writing (late March 2017), we’re working heavily on finalizing the current edition of the new directory (due out late May 2017), so haven’t spent too much time yet on the new research. Overall, we don’t anticipate major changes, although we’re looking at adding a few new sections. The basic chronology will remain the same, with the schedule released mid-April, and the first set of submission deadlines in early June. One of my aims is to enhance the research techniques that we use, and try to improve the way we conduct attorney interviews. We’ve built up lots of good relationships with US law firms over the years, but we’re keen to reach firms that aren’t as familiar with us and our research process.
Law firm marketers will be keen to meet you and introduce their firms and lawyers to you. How should they go about that?
Please contact me. (firstname.lastname@example.org / + 44 7778 1662). I’ll try to accommodate as many requests as possible. We can arrange calls, and I’m happy to meet US-based partners when visiting London. I’ll be heading to New York at the end of May for the launch of the new edition of Chambers USA and our US awards, and I’m keen to meet firms before and after the event. I’ll be looking to travel to the US as much as possible after that to meet law firms. Legal marketers and lawyers can also connect with me on LinkedIn.
What are some of your do’s and don’ts for legal marketers?
Don’t take it personally when we don’t grant interviews to your partners. Please reassure your partners that our not granting them an interview is not an indication of our assessment of them, nor does it have any bearing on the rankings. We receive a large number of requests for interviews and cannot accommodate all of them. In some cases, we’ve spoken to firms recently before, know them well, or the submission is comprehensive, so it shouldn’t be seen by firms as a negative thing when we decline an interview request.
What are your interests outside of work?
I’m passionate about linguistics, and have been since school and university. I have a background in languages: I speak German and Russian, and some (rusty) French. While not a trained lawyer, I have some legal understanding, as I did a law conversion course after university. Aside from that, I run a lot. I’ve been training since Christmas for my first marathon – the Manchester marathon.