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The World of Legal Rankings – Navigating Your Way up the Ranks

The world of legal ranking requires attorneys to embark on a complex marketing expedition that forces them to develop a type of marketing-centered thinking, to which they are not accustomed.

A short survey reveals that there are several hundred (!) active legal rankings around the globe. A very high number, and undoubtedly, many more than necessary.

The rise of “legal marketing” has sprouted an overflow of legal rankings, and a law firm embarking on a journey through this field must pay attention to warning signs and the steps it should take along the way, to reach the right destination.

Otherwise, it might discover later on that the resources and energy which were invested into the legal guide – were on the wrong (and non-relevant) track.

Here are a few tips that will help you safely navigate the world of legal rankings:

  1. Define your destination

The first question a law firm should ask is “what are the business goals that we aim to achieve through legal rankings”? Is it to advertise last year’s achievements? Is it to increase market awareness for the firm’s activities? Do we aim to attract new employees? Or perhaps new clients?

Example: A notable ranking in an international legal ranking could easily be used to expand into overseas activities, a process in which the greatest challenge is the right, focused exposure to potential clients. 

  1. Warning signs

There are several “road signs” that can alert us that we are on the wrong track.

  • Payment. In itself the request for payment to be included in a legal ranking is not necessarily a bad sign. However, it does require the firm to weigh the financial investment vs. the potential benefits of being included in the particular legal ranking. The benefits could be approximated be examining the specific legal ranking’s target audience, the information sources used to create and measure the rankings, and the correlation between the firm’s potential clients and those of the legal ranking. Note, that a preliminary request for payment in advance, even before the ranking has begun, might indicate a potential risk.
  • Application Process. An organized application process in which the firm is required to complete a set of forms upon which the ranking is based is a standard functional requirement, attesting to the legal ranking’s high quality of research and information. The warning sign goes up when it is the legal ranking that approaches the firm, not vice-versa as it should be. In more than one case, an unsolicited approach by a ranking to the law firm represents a dangerous “fishing” attempt to obtain otherwise undisclosed information, and to use that information maliciously in a commercial setting.
  • Winning lists. In itself, the “everyone is a winner” approach sounds great, but it serves as indication of the rankings reliability, and that no real quality ranking was done, as it is not possible for everyone to be “Number One”, or for every law firm to be included in the same ranking, as there are differences between the different law firms. The quality of the pre-publication research is clearly demonstrated in the ability to ascertain the true “stars” in each and every legal practice area.
  1. Ranking Methodology

The most important thing is to understand how the ranking process works. Good legal rankings balance quality parameters, such as the firm’s managerial quality, the relative work environment, and quantitate  parameters such as the firm’s growth rate, payment ethics and, of course, profitability.

The next step is the correlation between the business objectives determined by the firm, and the type of legal ranking and its ranking methodology. In addition, it is important to note the time frames – verify the opening and closing dates and deadlines of the ranking for application submissions.

At this stage, the firm transitions from the legal realm to the realm of marketing. A great pitch and presentation is key to all legal rankings. Presenting the firm requires creativity and the ability to emphasize the advantages and minimize the shortcomings. The presentation should be to the point, and written in such a manner that is easily understood by those who are not legal professionals.

  1. Reaching your destination, is that it?

Being ranked in a prestigious legal ranking signifies the end of the journey. However, the long road taken would go to waste if the firm’s new ranking does not reach the right target audience in the right way!

Where to publish? Professional newspapers and magazines; social media with high exposure rates; updating the firm’s website and attorney résumé. A notable ranking is a great reward in itself, but it serves to position the law firm and its lawyers as leaders and opinion makers within the legal practice.


The road is not easy, and goes primarily through the world of marketing, that is a different world with its own set of rules. Choosing the right course and spotting the warning signs could turn legal ranking into a great business and marketing lever that preserves the existing and opens up new opportunities in new places.

Robus helps many law firms navigate successfully through the legal ranking universe so as to reach the desired outcomes. We don’t just do our job in the highest standard – we are your partners in defining goals, and completing every single step along the way. Good luck!

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