Work is vital; Feedback is ESSENTIAL

Legal directory season is under way. When it comes to presenting your best work highlights from the past 12 months, it will always speak for itself, but one factor that CANNOT be overlooked is how clients will speak and view your services. With a number of directories competing for feedback, identification and selection is key. What do I do? 

The temptation to put the same referees as last year can be seen as the easy way out. It can deny the directories the current and fresh content they are often looking for, it can lead to referee fatigue, and also deny yourselves the chance to pick the best candidates for the best possible feedback.

Here are a handful of tips, ironically, and deliberately, spelling out REFEREE!! (Forgive me!)

1.      Responsive 

Are your clients responsive to phone calls and emails? Do they check spam? Will they find the time during the research period to respond? When they do reply, will they be descriptive about the team – in terms of its technical knowledge, as well as its service?

2.      Ensure 

Ensure that you can use these clients as a referee. Don’t assume. Remember that they can get asked a lot, not only by yourselves but by other law firms and third parties. Also, they may have a company policy against providing references. Choose wisely.

3.      Fatigue

To avoid referee fatigue, cut and paste the referee names, companies, positions and practice areas from all the final referee spreadsheets into one master spreadsheet for IFLR, Chambers and Legal 500, and others. This will allow you to sort, filter and plan for ‘referee fatigue,’ in advance of any deadlines, and ensure that directories receive new referees. 

4.      Establish 

Establish which clients have worked with you over the last 12 to 18 months so they can genuinely comment on a recent experience. They are likely to be more descriptive and it will be easier to remember the wider team too, which is a key factor in firm rankings. Are the chosen clients involved in the deals listed in the submissions? Ideally so. Are the chosen clients involved for many other law firms in this area? Think carefully. 

5.      Right 

Using the right referee spreadsheet is easily overlooked. The directories can look similar but ensure that all the relevant information is added. To save time, you can leave the address columns out and focus on the most relevant contact information.

6.      Examine Experts

Choose those with a good working knowledge of the team: They have worked with the department over the last 18 months and will know the wider team well enough to describe its strength. In-house Counsel can be better than CEOs – they are more likely to respond, know the law and know your team; highly ranked lawyers from other jurisdictions, as well as other professionals, such as accountants or surveyors, also provide valuable feedback as they tend to often be a larger user of legal services. 

should contain no more than 20 referees, depending on the directory.

And remember to speak to the client referees: 

•                to get their approval to include their names. 

•                to choose no more than 20. 

•                to let them know that a directory researcher will be calling/emailing so they don’t dismiss the contact as cold-calling/spam.



Idan Nishlis
Idan Nishlis

Idan Nishlis is the legal marketing pioneer in Israel. Being the only professional in the country to have studied services marketing, specializing in legal marketing, Idan has the most diversified and comprehensive work experience in the field, having worked in the US and Israel. Idan founded the first legal marketing department in Israel at Herzog Fox & Neeman which he managed for over 4 years, before launching Nishlis Legal Marketing. Idan's core strength lies in strategy and branding.

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