Early in 2020 I was kindly invited by the Canada-based legal marketing agency, F Squared, to contribute a short piece on legal directories to its annual Legal Marketing Trends report.

A compilation of writing from an acclaimed group of legal marketing professionals, a dozen experts contributed articles spanning a range of topics from leadership to podcasting to social media.

Click here to read the full report online, and here to download a PDF.

Below is the text in full of my article on legal directories.


My 2020 prediction is that legal directories will become more intolerant of marketing guff.

As a result, my aim is to cut out as many marketing clichés and well-worn phrases as possible.

I urge you to do the same.

Chambers brought out an updated version of its submission template in late 2019.

First introduced in the UK, the latest form will be rolled out in other regions in 2020.

After looking at the template changes, my take is that Chambers is fed up of plowing through piles of information, and has taken steps to force firms to be more concise.

With the biographies, include a web link to partners’ official firm profiles.

Firms did not have websites in the 1990s, so directory submissions at the time performed a vital role in conveying information to the legal media that would otherwise be unknown.

That isn’t the case anymore, with modern law firm websites rich sources of content.

Summarize your partners’ practice, and then point them to the website.

If the directory folks want more info, they know where to look.

Turning to the overview, Chambers has introduced a 500-word limit.

I’m a fan of word limits.

They impose discipline and force you to hone your message.

With the old form, I made sure to keep overviews under a page, but many firms went way over, making it hard for researchers to grab the key points.

Take the hint: sharpen up your message, and ditch the tired language.

Section B11 has been dropped.

Thank god.

If you recall, this was the section where firms would add in all manner of things – accolades from other publications, events, speeches.

It was well intentioned – a place where firms could provide stuff that didn’t fit neatly elsewhere – but it ended up as a dumping ground for anything and everything.

Researchers haven’t got time to wade through a list of every article your firm has authored.

Finally, the matter grids haven’t changed.

That’s significant because they remain the most important part of the submission.

Work highlights provide a valuable window into what a firm is doing.

And, crucially, much of the matter content isn’t available elsewhere.

My message to legal marketers in 2020: ditch the “brochure speak”, and let the substance of your submissions do the talking.