Linda HazeltonJust as we were getting ready to head out to the LMA Annual Conference, news broke that Chambers and Partners had been acquired by private equity house Inflexion. Today’s guest blogger, Linda Hazelton, Hazelton Marketing & Management, picked up the phone and spoke to Mark Wyatt, Chambers’ CEO.

Amongst the many services of Hazelton Marketing & Management is the writing of Chambers and other directory submissions on behalf of lawyers and law firms, so Linda’s insights to our community are very much welcomed, and I want to thank her for writing such a detailed post.


News recently broke regarding Inflexion’s acquisition of Chambers. Inflexion is a mid-market private equity firm “investing in high growth, entrepreneurial businesses.” In Inflexion’s news release, Simon Turner, Managing Partner, said:

The legal services market is a large and growing market which we have tracked for a number of years. Chambers benefits from a leading, global position and a reputation for providing the best rankings and research in the industry. There are multiple opportunities for the business to develop its market leading position internationally and through an enhanced digital offering. We look forward to working with the management team as Chambers embarks on this exciting growth strategy.”

Emphasis added

Mark Wyatt will re-join Chambers as CEO. Mark was previously the Managing Director of Chambers from October 2014 to September 2015. Mark’s quote in the news release referenced Chambers’ expansion plans and driving “[O]ur online presence forward.”

I spoke with Mark on April 9, 2018. He confirmed my supposition that Chambers’ methodology and the rigor with which they conduct research will not change. He is very enthusiastic about working with Inflexion, noting that they are terrific with technology. Since they are not publicly traded, there’s no need to focus on quarterly profits and they take the long view. Mark expects that the improvements in technology will allow them to manage the vast amount of information they have gathered in even more useful ways. Overall, the goal is to strengthen relationships with their clients and to improve at retaining their talented researchers and editors. I think we can anticipate an expanded on-line presence as well as new products such as forums, roundtables, client panels, and the like. Continue Reading Inflexion Acquired Chambers. Now What?

toservelawyers

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.

Kirk_surrounded_by_Tribbles
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.

Why? Continue Reading To Serve Lawyers – Thoughts from #LMA16

referee-2Hear those doors slamming and heads banging from your legal marketer’s direction? It can mean many different things, but between now and the end of the year, it’s most likely your Chambers & Partners submissions are due. Lucky for me, I work for a boutique and we keep our submissions manageable and simple. But I’ve worked in an AmLaw 100 where we did everything for every one across multiple states, time zones and continents. We had to manage what felt like a non-stop deluge of submissions across states and practice groups. John Hellerman at Hellerman Baretz just posted Clients: The Secret to Your (Chambers) Success:

The research cycle for Chambers USA kicked off on Monday, which means submission season is well and truly underway.  It also means, no doubt, that lots of you are panicking.  You may be wondering whether you’re ready, and if not, where you should be focusing your energy.  The answer is very simple, and involves two words: client referees.

For those of us on this side of the pond, referees are your references. While you might think that having the GC at your favorite Fortune 500 is the best reference due to name recognition and panache, the guy or gal a few notches down on the totem pole is most likely the better choice due to their accessibility, knowledge of the actual work you and the firm are doing, and willingness (and time) to return the call. A few little secrets I’ve learned over the years:

  • Chambers will only call a reference once every 6 months to a year. So if they spoke to your reference in June, they will not speak to her again in September.
  • Chambers will not tell you who is on the do-not-call list.
  • Chambers will not confirm with you which of your references they have contacted.
  • Chamber WILL tell you how many of your references they have reached.

So, if your “interview” period is in August, you might want to give a call mid-month to see how many of your references have been called. If only two out of the ten have been contacted, you need to get your partners on the phone. Who did they reach? Who did they miss? Who is out of town? Who can you substitute in? Great work is great work. But Chambers wants to hear about it from your references.

Thanks to guest bloggers Amy Knapp and Aileen Hinsch, Knapp Marketing, for providing a framework to repurpose all that hard work you put into your Chambers submissions.

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Being tasked with preparing a firm’s Chambers submissions is not considered the plum job in a law firm marketing department.  First, the responsible party must convince umpteen busy attorneys to reflect on the past year, cull their most significant matters and summarize the content and importance of those matters into several paragraphs.  Then the legal marketer must translate the matters into English. Because Chambers requires fresh matters, we don’t have the luxury of a four-month deadline to do the thinking, summarizing and sending:  it’s more like 4 weeks.

Then comes the sprint to the finish line – get all of those submissions in good order and submitted by the deadline.  The final challenge is finding out who did and didn’t get in, and trying to explain a decision you had no hand in, but ended up with all of the responsibility for.

If you have this job, then I have good news for you – you have got something no one else inside of a modern law firm today has:  everything the firm needs to effectively position and cross sell their services across practice areas, industries and basically, the whole firm.  You are likely one of the only people at the firm who has this broad understanding of what each group has been working on.

Our advice is to take the long view:  Consider the types of work that the matters reflect – including industries, legal issues, trends, etc. – and make a note of them. Use this process of reducing and summarizing your matters to develop a stronger understanding of the practice group and, in particular, what types of matters the group considers to be the strongest.

Your observations and analysis, based on what you observe from Chambers can be used the following ways:

1. Individual Attorney Bios

  • Abbreviate the Chambers matter descriptions to 3 sentences each and bullet 3 to 4 significant matters below the text on the attorney’s bio page.
  • If you see a trend or a prevailing type of expertise from one attorney’s matters, rewrite the lead for their bio and tie that lead to current events or business issues in the news that exemplify that trend.

2. Practice Descriptions

  • Freshen the matter references within the text of the PAD, or conclude the PAD with brief summaries of significant matters, as suggested above with bios.
  • Look for commonalities within the significant matters that the firm has handled over the past year.  Is there a particular industry or business problem that the firm seems particularly adept at serving or solving?  Tell that story in a generic but very relevant case study or two.

3. Credentialing Opportunities

  • Everyone loves a story or a case study.  Any one of the resolved Chambers matters, sufficiently disguised if necessary, would provide the basis for an instructive and engaging story.  Your attorneys might well be moving too fast to think it though, so write up brief titles and descriptions of potential articles that come to you from the matter descriptions, along with suggested media outlets who would publish them or blogs who would welcome the guest blog post.
  • Look for themes or trends within the matters of one particular attorney.  Draw out the insight, lesson or area of law that attorney seems to have focused on in the past year and suggest the title and content of an industry or ABA conference presentation that could be supported by the individual matters.

4. Cross-selling

  • Now is the time to sit back and think about all of the matters you have reviewed in the past several months.  Think about the clients and their positions and interests.  Without exception, every one one of you who prepared the Chambers submission are in possession of valuable cross-selling knowledge.  No one else knows about them because no one else has had to spend the time learning everything you have.  I don’t know what those synergies are, but I know for sure they are there.  See if you can find them and share them with the right person.

5. Further your own career!

  • You are in the enviable position of owning and understanding all of this data!  Who else in the firm could possibly devote this much time and energy to understanding what so many other attorneys are doing?  Much less understanding the significance and ‘ins and outs’ of the matters they consider noteworthy.  Don’t waste this opportunity.  If none of the suggestions above sound like they fit the culture of your firm then prepare a memo and send it to your immediate supervisor, your CMO, Director of Marketing, Managing Partner or your Practice Group Leader (as appropriate — be politically savvy).    Share your observations and ideas.  Be the person who is looking at the big picture — that’s what law firms need and respond to!

Okay. The video I posted last week, Before You Best or Super Lawyer, Watch This!,has really reasonated with my peers.

Like many of you, I have had similar conversations with attorneys in the firms where I have worked over the years.

Luckily for me, my current firm gets it.

And while I might make fun of some of these directories (okay, I do, and often), they do have their place in your marketing plan and should not be ignored. You just need to be strategic about it and understand their value, which will be different for every attorney and firm.

Here are a few of my thoughts on a few of these directories. You can assume that if I am not mentioning a director or peer-review rated system, I don’t place high value in it (today).

  1. Most directories have been invented to sell advertising.
  2. You will not bring in a new client because on your bio it now says that you are a Best, Super or Tier 1 attorney.
  3. Clients WILL be impressed if you make the US News & World Report survey, which uses Best Lawyers‘ data. The plaque looks pretty nice in our lobby as well. (SEE >>>>>>>)
  4. If you have a consumer practice, or a local corporate/litigation practice, participate in the survey that shows up in your Sunday paper.
  5. Spend the time on Chambers. They actually do their research and it means something. But know that the interviews are what really count. Be prepared. Prepare your references. DON’T IGNORE THE CALL.
  6. You as the lawyer have to participate. I as the marketer cannot fill out the Best Lawyers or Super Lawyers ballot for you. You must spend those 2 (non-billable) minutes all by yourself.
  7.  If you don’t fill out the survey, you won’t be ranked, don’t blame your marketer.
  8. These surveys all have a peer review component to them. Make nice with your peers. (Don’t be such an asshole, in other words).
  9. Focus on industry rankings in trade association journals. That’s what your clients read.
  10. It’s worth mentioning twice: Surveys are designed to sell advertising and plaques. Don’t be flattered once you are named to all the other directories. They’re just trying to sell you a plaque/advertising as well.

And just a warning, Chambers is changing how they conduct and rank their survey starting next year (for the 2013 additions). Time to go out and educate yourself.

Happy ranking!

As I mentioned here, I was invited to participate on a panel at the Legal Marketing Association-Bay Area Chapter’s 12th Annual Technology Program on a panel, Beyond Print: Moving Marketing Communications into the Audio and Video Realms.

The panel was moderated by Jen Klein from Blattel, and included Joe Calve, CMO, MoFo; Brian Colucci, Director of Marketing, Townsend; and Dave Pistoni, Principal and Creative Director, doubledave (great company name, by the way).

First of all, kudos for Jen leading a great session. We had our notes, our questions, who was going to take the lead when and where. But we collectively agreed to let the audience drive the content. Come on. We can talk AT you and tell you what WE think you want to hear as an audience member, or we can actually discern what YOU want to hear and respond accordingly.

Jen asked the first questions, then we, as a panel, began interacting with the audience.

Sometimes the questions came from Jen, sometimes the audience, sometimes the audience were talking amongst themselves, sharing their experiences. It allowed for a lot of energy, and as we (the panel), discussed afterward that we all LEARNED something too. I got some great ideas, and left the room more energized than I was when I arrived.

Obviously, I couldn’t take notes while on the panel, so Lydia Bednerik rocked it by tweeting the program via #lmatech.

After the jump, I’m going to pull a few of her comments out, and elaborate. Continue Reading Beyond Print … Marketing Communications Continues to Evolve