A theme I heard, or just picked up on, at the 2016 LMA Annual Conference is that our role, as legal marketers, is as a service provider to our clients … the lawyers we serve. Yet, sometimes, the relationship seems much more adversarial than it has to be.

Yes, our “job” is to increase the top line, but very few of us are true sales people heading out to bring in new clients to the firm. And it takes finesse to be successful in our roles.

For the most part, our job is to help identify opportunities both internally and externally. To coach and train lawyers. To prepare for the sale. To provide the infrastructure. Too many lawyers want to abdicate (or blame) marketing if they do not have a steady stream of new business. The rainmakers get it. The service partner (which are becoming a dying breed in law firms) do not.

Directories and submissions multiply faster than Tribbles.

So where am I going here? The disdain for a function of our jobs — submissions — has to stop. And the attitude change has to come from us.

Yes. Directories and submissions seem to breed new directories and submissions faster than Tribbles, but can you not see the value? And I’m not talking about pointing to new revenue. The ROI for each of our functions is not necessarily new revenue, and I will argue that directory and submissions do more for us than they do for the lawyers.

Here’s how I came to appreciate the Chambers and Partners submission process, as well as Best Lawyers, and yes, Super Lawyers:

It’s not about bringing in new business.

It’s about the service provider/client relationship we share with the lawyers.

I believe the Chambers/Super Lawyers panel has surpassed the General Counsel panel as one of my favorites at the LMA Annual Conference. Why? Because my CLIENTS, the lawyers, value these and learn something new each time that allows me to serve my clients better.

I wrote about my change of heart here last year in I’m changing my tune on surveys. Once I stopped thinking about how these submissions are a waste of time and don’t bring in any new business, and started to recognize WHY the attorneys value them, I was then able to see how they allow ME to build a better relationship with my CLIENT. At that moment I began to not only  appreciate the submissions and directories, but look forward to them.


  1. I learn more about the attorney’s practice
  2. I learn more about the attorney’s clients
  3. The one-on-one time we spend enhances my relationship with the partner

Here are some of the slides I snapped during the presentation:

And here are some of my Tweets from the session.

As for Super Lawyers, not every lawyer is going to make Chambers. When I sit in those partner meeting congratulating the new Chambers attorneys, or shouting out who made the Top ??? of ???, there are attorneys who will be left out. Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers are a great foundation. The work required is minimal, and the rewards in the client-service provider relationship are great.

What I did not realize until the conference is that Super Lawyers now bases 50% of their ranking on their independent research. You can control that by updating the attorney’s Super Lawyer profile with recent cases, wins, deals, etc. Let’s be honest here, we spend the majority of our time with the rainmakers and potential rainmakers of the firm. We spend very little time with the service partners. Why not look at the Super Lawyer process as a opportunity to spend time with the rest of the lawyers in the practice group to learn more about what they do, who they do it for, and why they are different than their competitors.

I get it. For some firms, submission response is a full-time job for one or more people. For me, it’s a short season. But if I am going to help these lawyers sell what it is that they do, then I need to get into their heads. If they won’t do it once a year to update their bio, I know I can get them to do it once a year to update their submissions.

And that, my fellow legal marketers, is why I now appreciate the submissions process.

And buy them the damn plaque.