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Legal 500 vs. Chambers – The differences between the legal rankings guides

Ranking guides are one of the main tools used by lawyers who aspire to market themselves. Every year, many law firms undertake substantial efforts in order to be ranked among the first tire firms in both Israeli and international ranking guides.

Being ranked as a first tier firm indicates quality and professionality , and, as a result, will lead to the strengthening of the firm’s name and a significant enlargement of its pool of customers.

Among the different known ranking guides in the Israeli legal market, one can find BDI and Dun’s 100, along with the well-known ranking guides from the international arena – Chambers and Partners and Legal 500. Many attorneys are having a hard time distinguishing between the two.

The way they work

Before presenting the differences between the two, it is important to know the similarities and deepen the understanding of how they work.

Both, Chambers and Legal 500 were established in London during the mid 80’s. These private owned guides, paved their ways at the same time, creating a new, unique niche – high quality ranking guides, who carefully grade leading law firms based on independent research.

The two guides started their way exclusively in England, but soon enough expanded their business overseas, and today they provide legal ranking services in different areas, including the United States, Europe, the  Middle-East, Africa etc.

Both guides keeps sending hard-copy editions of the annual rankings to law firms, but simultaneously invest in up-to-date, unique internet platforms that provide the firm with a powerful marketing tool, along with seminars, award ceremonies, the publishing of legal articles and more.

Research method

When it comes to the research method both ranking guides work in a similar way, based on submissions written by the law firms. In those submissions the firms emphasize mainly the legal services they provided their clients that year.

Furthermore, the ranking guides examine closely each submission, and interview both the lawyers and their clients. After a deep research both guides publish their yearly rankings, categorized by countries and legal practice fields.

The ranking within every practice field is also divided to three levels known as “tiers”, providing an indication of the quality of the firm (from the subjective perspective of the ranking professionals).

After explaining the similarity between the ranking guides and understanding how the ranking works, we will explain the main differences:

  1. International recognition:Legal 500 started its international expansion in Europe, Asia and then the United States, while Chambers started its international expansion from the U.S.A. The differences in this international expansion teaches us that Chambers has a better reputation in the USA, while Legal 500 is well based in Europe.
  2. Size and scope of activity: There are 150 content editors working for Chambers at the moment, compared to only 50 editors at Legal 500. In addition, and even though Chambers recently enlarged their services to other arenas, it seems that its main arena remained legal rankings.Legal 500, on the other hand, is part of an international legal advertising company named “Legalease” that publishes a monthly magazine called “Legal Business” and handles various other legal events. Therefore, firms that were ranked high on Legal 500, can occasionally also receive wide recognition in other legal publications.
  3. Time of Submission: One of the main differences between the guides is the submission deadline and the time they are actually published. Generally, Legal 500 have a shorter time frame for research and therefore works with strict deadlines without exceptions. Chambers on the other hand, is a whole different story; it works with wider time frames and thus can conduct longer and more thorough research. The research in the USA , for example, is stretched over the course of 7 months, and the submission time is more flexible. The situation in Israel is different. Considering the fact that Israel doesn’t have that many law firms (in comparison to England or USA) there is no need for a long research period. In Israel the submission for Chambers and Legal500 is almost simultaneous, usually during July-August.
  4. Scope of submission: Another significant difference between the ranking guides, that affects the chances of being ranked among the top tiers, is the flexibility in the quantity of clients that can be included in the submission. While Legal 500 doesn’t specifically limit the amount of clients that can be included in the submission, Chambers is very strict, and limits law firms to 10 clients per department (in Israel).It is crucial to emphasize that due to the unlimited amount of clients that can be mentioned in a Legal 500 submission, this ranking guide is subject to broader changes every year both in law firm ranking and those of individual attorneys that stand out in their field of specialisation.
  5. Publishing the ranking guide: Chambers publishes two rankings: the first ranks law firms and the second ranks individual lawyers that stand out during the passing year. Legal 500, on the other hand, focuses on ranking law firms, providing mentions of individuals lawyers within the text. From time to time Legal 500 publishes a separate list of outstanding individual attorneys, yet not divided into tiers or, as detailed

In conclusion, as mentioned above, both Legal 500 and Chambers have a massive reputation in Israel and abroad. There are many similarities between the two. But, knowing the differences can help you- the lawyers- improve your submission in the future, and of course- your position in the upcoming ranking guides.

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