Getting to know Legal 500: An exclusive interviewThe Grey Matter Team
How was Legal 500 established, what was the intention at the time?
The Legal 500 launched in 1987 in the UK. It was the very first research guide and it was designed to provide thorough, in-depth and independent analysis of the strengths of law firms. Since then, The Legal 500 has established itself as the market leading guide to law firms and has expanded across the globe, now producing law firm research & rankings in over 150 jurisdictions.
The Legal 500 is seen as the essential reference tool that helps businesses choose the right law firm. It is used extensively by in-house counsel, business leaders and law firms. The website has a footfall of over 6 million users annually and India is a hugely important market for The Legal 500 attracting 400,000 users to the website in the last 12 months.
What makes Legal 500 so reliable? What sets you apart?
The Legal 500 analyses the capabilities of law firms across the world, with a comprehensive research programme revised and updated every year to bring the most up-to-date vision of the global legal market. The rankings are based on a series of criteria, but simply put, they highlight the practice area teams who are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel. The research is based on feedback from 300,000 clients worldwide, submissions from law firms and interviews with leading private practice lawyers, and a team of researchers who have unrivalled experience in the legal market.
In addition to the law firm rankings, The Legal 500 produces a range of products that engage with in-house counsel & law firms throughout the year. These include:
The GC Powerlist – The GC Powerlist is a series of publications, events and networking opportunities which highlight the most influential in-house lawyers and legal teams in business today, including India where they have produced this research since 2016. The most recent research was for GC Powerlist: India Teams 2019 and the publication looks forward to being back in India towards the end of 2022 to celebrate the 5th edition.
Events – The Legal 500 produces over 300 in-person & digital events per year, including Conferences, Awards, Champagne Receptions, and Webinars. They have produced approximately 15 in India including the GC Summit, Disputes Summit & GC Powerlist.
Comparative Guides – The Legal 500’s Country Comparative Guides are produced in association with the World’s leading lawyers and give the in-house community a practical overview of the laws and regulations in key jurisdictions, for specific practice areas in Q&A format.
With all the feedback and submissions you receive, what according to you, do lawyers do really well?
Lawyers do well when they are able to use matters they handled in the past research cycle to demonstrate their expertise, their industry knowledge, the role they played in the complex matters, and how they are able to combine their legal knowledge and understanding of client’s business to provide tailor-made advice to the clients.
With all the feedback and submissions you receive, what according to you, do lawyers need to learn to do more of?
Please fill in all the sections the submission, if possible. Once the submission is completed, read through and check whether all the information in the submission gives the researcher a fair picture of the practice. Every single detail asked for in the submission will be used to assess the firm’s market position and recent development, so use all the prompts in the submission template to convey this.
The Legal 500 focuses on assessing the bench strength of the team, therefore, it would be extremely useful if the researchers are able to assess the firm’s collective strength from senior partners, junior partners and non-partner level up-and-coming lawyers. It is important to use the individual recommendation sections to highlight individuals that have a solid track record, or have had a strong year.
It is also worth noting that they now have a practice area definition on the website. It is important to include the right types of work in the submission, therefore it is strongly recommended that firms check the practice area definition before starting to collect cases to include in a submission.
The matter description should be brief and precise. The researchers want to understand what the matter is, who the firm represented, the significance of the matter, areas of advice the firm offered especially in high profile matters where multiple firms were involved, and the outcome of the case.
What business expansion plans does the publishing house have for itself in the coming times, with digitization rapidly gaining popularity among lawyers?
The Legal 500 will be expanding coverage for India with a new regional focus. Legal 500 has been ranking leading law firms and individual lawyers for almost 33 years and this year they are introducing regional rankings covering 13 key cities across India. Until now, there has been a concentration of leading firms and lawyers in New Delhi and Mumbai and although they rank firms based in other cities in the existing ranking tables, this year they want to reach out to firms based in other cities that may be more city/region based and/or more specialised.
The new cities for India include: Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Pune, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Kochi, Noida and Chandigarh. This is only the start, and Legal 500 hopes to increase coverage even further in the years to come. Watch this space!
The Legal 500 has also launched a series of new digital initiatives over the past 24 months to cater to the increased popularity of digitization and to keep up with how content is now consumed in the modern day. These include:
Corporate Conversations – Corporate Conversations is a new-format webinar and podcast (both live and available-on-demand) that combines the best of the “fireside chat” format with the utility of the ‘ask me anything’ (AMA) presentation. Designed to dive deep into the topic in question and deliver contextualised, relevant and up-to-date information on critical issues in a concise 30-minute format, the Corporate Conversations series will build into a resource library of crucial discussion of the most pertinent contemporary legal topics.
The Legal 500 Podcast – available to listen on Apple Podcast, Spotify and Acast – The Legal 500 Podcast brings together insights from over 33 years of market-leading research and content, updates and advice from Legal 500’s editors, and appearances from influential members of the legal community.
Can you share some inputs you would like our law firm audience to know as ‘things to bear in mind’ while making a submission to Legal 500.
Please make sure you submit the submission and the referee spreadsheet on time. Referees may not be contacted if the documents are submitted past the deadline.
Make sure there are example of matters the lawyers have handled in the submission if they’ve been singled out as recommended lawyers in any of the below sections (leading individuals, next generation partners and rising stars), and make sure their clients have been included as referees so we can reach out to them seeking their feedback.
What according to Legal 500 qualify as the top 5 factors that showcase growth of a law firm?
All in no particular order:
- Evidence of new clients (and work received from said new clients)
- Team development – internal promotions, lateral hires bolstering the team at a junior level
- Improvement in the quality of mandates received – instructed on headline deals in the market
- Engagement in innovation (be that AI tools or something else)
- Practice offering expanding in response to market developments and the team developing subsets of expertise
How has the Indian legal market evolved over time, in your view?
The Indian Legal Market has evolved tremendously over time. There have been many advancements to note, but some which come to mind include:
- Seeing many large to mid-sized firms expanding to have a pan-Indian presence, catering to the increased growth of the country, whilst also noting the growth of the boutique law firm.
- The embrace of technology in law (as was also seen reinforced with the impact of the 2020 pandemic) helping to improve synergy between lawyers and clients whilst keeping up with how law is practiced in the modern day.
- Many lawyers taking the risk in leaving the well-established law firms to create their own practice.
- Seeing more women having representation at partnership level, whilst also seeing the environment of the legal market advance to allow women to flourish.