Chambers and Partners: Law firm submissions 101

June 29, 2023

Two years ago we published our original Chambers and Partners 101 blog post.

Does the memory echo like a gong throughout your bones?

I lean towards the dramatic because deciding to submit to Chambers can feel dramatic. And my goal is certainly not to peer pressure you to submit.

Not all law firms have the bandwidth to support the robust submissions required by Chambers, which is why many of our clients submit for the first time with our support. We recommend pursuing a Chambers ranking to clients because it’s considered one of the most weighty of law firm recognitions by in-house counsel.

What’s new since the last time we chatted?

Before I jump back into why we recommend Chambers to clients, let’s take a beat to address why I’m dusting off my soapbox again to chat Chambers.

*clears throat*

A few things have changed since the last time we discussed this submission!

But you’re busy so let me give you the high-level highlights:

  • Chambers isn’t stagnant. It’s important to keep an eye on what they’re up to over there because they do introduce new surveys every once in a while that might be a great fit for your firm.
  • Chambers has expanded its coverage of practices that support energy transition along with government relations in 2023. Again, they aren’t stagnant. They attempt to reflect the trends in the industry.
  • Because Chambers relies heavily on client referees, they have a lot of tea and are willing to spill it. According to the 2023 guide, the main concern of in-house counsel remains fees. However, staffing is also a concern, with in-house counsel wanting leaner teams and more partner availability.
  • More tea from in-house counsel? Commercial awareness, technical knowledge, responsiveness and client service are all top of mind for corporate counsel when assessing outside law firms. Many counsel are looking to shake up their current outside teams or even start shopping around.
  • We’ve also heard a bit more about the Chambers Research Management Tool (which is available to purchase as an add-on). While our sample size is small, users are finding that it is a great tracking tool for law firms submitting to Chambers to understand which referees have connected with researchers. However, it is still recommended that law firms stay in direct communication with referees to ensure they are happy to chat with Chambers.

What is Chambers and should we do it?

(Friendly heads up from your neighborhood legal PR agency: I am specifically referring to the annual Chambers USA rankings; they do have international rankings as well.)

Chambers is an award submission put together by Chambers and Partners that ranks the best of the best in law firms. It’s exclusive and based on technical ability and client service.

There are six bands in Chambers, with the first being the highest form of recognition.

Chambers is a big deal. Firms can spend upwards of 60 hours on a single submission. Is it worth it for your firm?

If a Chambers ranking fits into the big-picture plan for your firm, let’s do it! The ranking lends third-party credibility to your attorneys, and provides an avenue for showcasing the amazing work done at your firm.

But, do keep in mind, if you want to keep that ranking year over year, Chambers will become an oh-so-fun annual event. It’s not a one-and-done deal. Instead, Chambers is like the aunt who is emotionally taxing at Thanksgiving. She’s so much work, but man oh man does the reward of her mashed potatoes make her presence worth it.

There is no limit to the number of nominations a firm can submit, but really be mindful. Given the robust nature of the submission, focus on the practice areas in which you think you can score a ranking.

Now, not everyone agrees. A few months ago, Law.com interviewed a Chambers-ranked, nationally acclaimed attorney who said Chambers rankings are but “feathers on a scale” and that new business comes from word-of-mouth recommendations, not legal recognitions.

And yes. Word-of-mouth recommendations are incredibly powerful. But I agree with Chambers’ response that “[independent] research reconfirms the importance of rankings and directories, and that same research placed Chambers as the company with the highest advocacy across the industry.”

When a word-of-mouth recommendation Googles you, having a Chambers badge on your profile is another powerful reinforcement that you are highly skilled. 

Okay. I’m sold. Our firm would benefit from a Chambers ranking. What now?

The Chambers 2024 schedule is live and ready to go.

Before you sharpen your pencils and clear your calendar, a few important things to note:

  • Plan ahead. Chambers is not for the procrastinators in the group. It’s for the highlighter wielding, Type A, already-done-with-holiday-shopping humans among us. Make sure you have the time and capacity to submit by the deadline.
  • Please also make sure you are submitting to the correct practice area. For real. This seems obvious but is a common misstep! Make sure the work examples you are submitting to support your argument fit in the practice group for which you are trying to rank. The researchers also prefer narratives when you are laying out your cases, not bulleted lists. Tell the story of why your firm rocks, rather than just assuming the judges will make that leap automatically. They read A LOT of submissions and it’s best to guide them with a narrative that points directly to what you want them to notice.
  • Fill out the submission properly. Again, this is not me being patronizing. This is a speed bump for a lot of submissions. Use the space for all 20 matters allotted on the submission. Ten matters should be public, the other 10 can stay confidential. You can have fewer of one type and more of another as long as you don’t exceed 20 because Chambers won’t read beyond that 20th matter. And don’t just give a basic, blah summary. Come on! It’s time to shine, baby! Emphasize why these matters are important,unique or especially noteworthy along with what they say about your firm that you’ve been trusted with that workMake sure the client referees you’re submitting have been warned and are communicative. Client referees are highly important for being ranked. Make sure your referees know a call will be coming from Chambers. It’s also best if your referees match up with your representative matters. For some practices that’s not possible (hello white-collar and other confidential work) but it’s a good rule of thumb. Fill out the B10 section entirely — and don’t fill it with marketing fluff or a reiteration of attorney bios. Take it seriously as another opportunity to emphasize why you should be ranked.

But, like, I have a day job. How can I get this done?

We see you. And we have a day job too: helping firms with legal award nominations like this.

An in-house professional is of course more than capable of handling a firm’s Chambers submission, and is probably incredibly effective at tracking attorneys down for submission details.

However, an agency is nothing to scoff at. I know it’s hard to take me super seriously when I’m saying this to you from an (award-winning) agency

The benefit of working with a legal-focused agency is that we’re familiar with what Chambers is looking for. We have the benefit of looking at the submission similar to how a Chambers researcher will, as someone not intimately familiar with the workings of the case but with enough legal knowledge (and enough submissions under our belt) to understand impact. Having a slightly removed yet savvy perspective is incredibly beneficial for these types of submissions.

We hope that helps answer questions surrounding Chambers. If you’d like to learn more or chat with us about potential submissions for your firm, we’re here to help!

And if you’d like a monthly update of the latest legal PR opps and awards we are keeping an eye on (including Chambers), sign up here.

This post was updated in September 2023 to reflect more knowledge about the Chambers Research Management Tool.

 
 
 

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  • About the Author
    Shelby Gambrell

    Shelby loves to take a busy client brief, untangle any knots and create an action plan. During her tenure at Reputation Ink, she’s overseen complete overhauls of client websites, new brand releases and other large-scale, multi-pronged initiatives. If you ever need to know the status of a project or a projected turnaround time, Shelby is the Rep Ink’er to contact.

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    Kevin Aschenbrenner

    Kevin is a seasoned PR and communications consultant with more than two decades of experience. His background includes 16 years focused on the professional services sector, particularly law firms. Read his full bio here.

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