Earlier this week I got an e-mail from Jaffe Associates reminding me that although the 2008 Chambers USA Guide just came out, it’s time to start gearing up for 2009. Reminds me of all the back to school sales, in the middle of July. Didn’t summer vacation just start??

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear this, but I hate directories and guides. Most are out there to cater to egos and sell advertising. But I respect Chambers & Partners and will take the time and prod my partners along to fill out their questionnaires. Why? Because Chambers actually solicits input about my partners and my firm from our clients, from your clients, along with our peers in the legal community. While there are things we can do to position ourselves for notice by Chambers, it’s pretty hard to manipulate the process.

It is the reputation of Chambers and the validity of their process that allows marketers to justify devoting so much of our time and efforts. In fact, there are several firms out there with full-time positions dedicated to Chambers and the like.

Ed Poll blogged on lawyer ratings this week and it reminded me of one of my great “ideas” for when I win the MegaMillions jackpot.

Last year I read that Zagat (the restaurant guide) has teamed with WellPoint (the health insurer) to create a ratings system for their doctors. How brilliant. Let the patients comment on trust, communication, availability and environment.

One of the nation’s largest health insurers, WellPoint, has teamed with Zagat Survey to let patients rate their doctors, just as diners rate restaurants in Zagat’s burgundy-colored guides.

Instead of Zagat’s four categories for restaurants — food, décor, service and cost — the ratings guide will consider trust, communication, availability and office environment. In addition to giving doctors a numerical score based on a 30-point scale, the site will include comments from patients.

I would love to see a brand like Zagat enter the legal services marketplace. Their brand alone would bring instant credibility and provide us (legal marketers, lawyers, law firms, etc) a wise alternative to Who’s Who, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious lawyers. And while newcomer AVVO is promoting their new ratings service for lawyers, from what I have seen, it is primarily consumer-based law, and not corporate, leaving a void to be filled.

An attorney guide by Zagat; now, that’s a guide I could get behind.