For every law firm that has engaged with legal directories for years, another is just getting started.

Like anything, if you have been through the process, it quickly becomes straightforward.

But if you’re new to directories – as many firms are – it is bewildering.

Seasoned pros, look away now.

This is a simple “how to” guide for those submitting for the first time.

What is a Submission?

A legal directory submission is a written document that summarizes a law firm’s practice, and highlights its work and achievements over the last year.

Directories like Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 request submissions because they provide valuable information about a firm’s activities which they would otherwise not know.

That in turn means the directories can better understand and describe the work of the law firms.

The majority of firms that engage with legal directories choose to provide submissions.

While submissions are optional – you are not obliged to provide them and the directories recognize some firms who have not submitted – a submission will give your firm a better chance of recognition.

Decide Where to Focus

Pick one or two directories to focus on.

A common problem with newbies is over-submitting.

First-time directory submitters often say, “we want to be in x, y, and z publication, in multiple areas”.

There is some value in submitting to more than one directory, because once you have developed the material, it can be repurposed easily for a second publication.

But if this is your first time, don’t submit to more than two publications in year one.

At the same time, target a small number of practices.

One ideally, two at the most.

Getting into the good legal directories is hard, so use your first submission to concentrate on your strongest practice area.

On your first attempt, lead with the practice where you are best known.

You can always add additional submissions later on.

Find Out The Deadline

Those new to legal directories are not always aware that they typically operate on an annual cycle with fixed deadlines.

So you have to organize yourself around the date when the submission for your country and practice is due.

To find the deadlines, look at the calendars on the directory websites.

Once you know the deadlines, work back to give yourself enough time to prepare.

If it’s your first time submitting, I suggest starting on your submission four to six weeks before the deadline.

Prepare your Submission

To prepare your submission, get hold of the right template from the directory website.

Some directories ask for a single document, while others require both a Word document and an accompanying spreadsheet for your client references.

Download the documents from the directory website, save them locally on your system, and prepare your materials.

Submit Your Entry

When your documents are ready, you will need to send them to the directories.

The way you do this varies from publication to publication.

With Chambers, you upload your documents via an online system.

To do this, your firm must have an account with Chambers.

It’s free to set up, so get in touch with Chambers at least a few days before the deadline to give them time to set up your account and provide log-in details.

Legal 500 has a similar online system, and with IFLR1000 you also upload your document via a special area on the firm’s website.

Contact the Directories

Although not necessary, it’s a good idea to manually email the researcher and/or editor responsible for your country/practice as well as uploading your documents to their central system.

If your firm has never engaged with the directories before, it is likely the directories will know little or nothing about your firm.

So this is a good opportunity to send a cover note to the relevant people and introduce your firm to them.

Remind the directory contacts that your firm has submitted for the first time, give them some background about the firm, and say that you would be happy to be interviewed.

Now the Research Begins….

That’s it in terms of the actual submission.

Once you have submitted, the directories will begin their research in your country/practice anything from a few days to a few weeks after the deadline.