After the Chambers USA 2022 guide is released on June 1, 2022, and shows how your firm and attorneys placed in the rankings, it’s time to start planning for next year’s submissions because the 2023 research cycle begins this summer. Here are some tips and insights to help you interpret this year’s results and begin developing a strategy for your 2023 legal rankings submissions.

Before we get into all that, I would highly encourage anyone who has submitted or has interest in submitting to attend the Chambers USA 2022 Guide Launch online event with North America Research Director Kushraj Cheema and Head of USA Research James Haggerty at 11 a.m. EDT on June 1.

The 2022 Chambers results and what they mean

The Chambers USA 2022 guide includes coverage of firms and attorneys in 250 practice areas in all 50 states, D.C. and nationwide. As of today, firms are only able to access which attorneys and departments were ranked, not the actual band rankings themselves, which include any newly ranked attorneys or teams.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately get the recognition you were hoping for. Legal rankings in general and Chambers USA in particular are a marathon, not a sprint. Each award is different and getting an attorney or firm ranked can be a strategic, multi-year process.

Put your best foot forward

This article includes highlights from the Chambers USA website and tips for interpretation.

First, let’s review the importance of diversity and inclusion representation in your submission.

Highlight #1: Chambers and Partners request diversity and inclusion information as part of the research process.

Tip #1: The submission form asks for a percentage breakdown of attorneys who fall into various diverse categories, such as those with a minority background, who have a disability or who identify as LGBTQ+. This is a good tool for internal evaluation and to help your firm consider whether a group could improve its inclusion efforts to better reflect the diversity of the region or practice area.

Last year, Chambers USA added a column in Section B9 for firms to include information about ranked and unranked lawyers (including associates) concerning current or recent parental leave, significant childcare commitments, or other part-time working arrangements. The new section recognized how the pandemic pushed issues about family care to the forefront. With schools shut down and the elderly particularly vulnerable to the virus, many families kept aging parents at home rather than in senior living facilities, leading attorneys to make difficult compromises to balance work and family responsibilities. The addition of this new section shows an authentic acknowledgment of these challenges, and illustrates that Chambers USA understands the circumstances, supports attorneys who took leave and will not let those shifts affect recognition.

2022 submissions are complete — what’s next in your legal rankings strategy?

If your firm is not seeing the movement or recognition you would like, it’s not time to throw in the towel just yet. Remember that gaining a Chambers USA recognition or moving up within a table can be a multi-year endeavor. That said, it may be time to finetune your submissions or update your referees to help gain some momentum.

Highlight #2: There is no ”secret formula” to writing a good submission. Chambers simply wants a clear summary of the most significant facts about your practice presented using the template.

Tip #2: Follow the directions and maximize the space. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Chambers USA submissions where attorney or department information is populated solely with website hyperlinks and no context.

The directions clearly state, “Please do not repeat additional biographical information which is available on your website or via other sources. You may include a link to these biographies.” Use this space as an opportunity to describe what truly makes the attorneys exceptional. There was a reason they were selected for inclusion in the submission, so share that information here. The same advice goes for the department information. Also, don’t shy away from addressing coverage and rankings (or lack of inclusion) in this section. Chambers USA researchers only know what they know, so take this opportunity to politely share your feedback and brag a bit about the amazing work your attorneys have done.

As mentioned above, Chambers USA has been putting more emphasis and consideration on diversity, as well as highlighting less-seasoned leaders. Choosing which attorneys to submit is as important as selecting matters for inclusion. It’s important not to dilute the submission with too many attorneys, but to focus on those who represent the depth of the practice and are actively involved in your matters.

Remember that not all matters are created equal. Collecting and organizing matters in advance of preparing a submission is another helpful way to prioritize the information you want to share. Create an outline to make sure that you are making the best use of the 20 matters you’re highlighting in the submission. Are you showcasing the depth of the department? Are you highlighting different attorneys throughout the submission? Are the complexities of the practice and strengths of the lawyers well-articulated?

Highlight #3: We will never print or quote directly from a submission, but we will refer to it as a source of factual information about a law firm and its activities.

Tip #3: Chambers takes confidentiality very seriously. Time and time again, I see firms sanitizing matters down and still including them in the section for confidential matters.

This is one of the reasons why Chambers USA allows for both “publishable” and “confidential” matters. Details are important and allow the researchers to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Matter descriptions allow firms to showcase attorneys and their practices. The more details, the better. If utilizing the confidential section while including case details still makes you uncomfortable, it likely makes sense to replace the matter.

Matters matter but referees rule

Chambers USA places a high emphasis on client feedback, because that is the easiest way to get an honest assessment of a firm and the quality of its work and client service. We recommend updating referees to reflect the matters in a submission and assist with giving additional insights and perspectives on attorneys.

Chambers USA has increased the number of referees from 20 to 30 for the 2023 research cycle. This should alleviate some of the pressure by expanding opportunities for inclusion and allowing new contacts to be included to enhance information that you gather.

Please note that Chambers USA has shared key information about which sections no longer require referee lists, since many of the nationwide sections use client feedback from state-level research. This helps to prevent “referee fatigue” and minimize confusion for someone who is contacted to serve as a reference for the same attorney in the same practice area for the same legal directory several months after an initial interview.

Chambers USA 2023 research — what you need to know

The 2023 research deadlines range from July 14, 2022, to December 8, 2022, and research will begin in August this year. The new edition of the guide will include coverage of several emerging and growing practice areas in the U.S. legal market, and expand existing areas of coverage into new jurisdictions.

The Chambers USA 2023 research schedule can be found here. There is an option to customize the schedule based on location and practice, and download that information for easy reference.

These sections will be newly available for submission documents for the Chambers USA 2023 research cycle.

  • Arizona — Construction
  • Connecticut — Energy & Natural Resources
  • Florida: North & Central — Litigation: Medical Malpractice Defense
  • Georgia — Government Relations
  • Georgia — Technology & Outsourcing
  • Indiana — Energy & Natural Resources
  • Ohio — Energy & Natural Resources
  • Ohio — Environment
  • Ohio — Government Relations
  • Oregon — Bankruptcy/Restructuring
  • Oregon — Energy & Natural Resources
  • West Virginia — Immigration
  • USA — Nationwide — Energy Transition
  • USA — Nationwide — Intellectual Property: Appellate
  • USA — Nationwide — Occupational Safety and Health
  • USA — Nationwide — Offshore Energy
  • USA — Nationwide — Public Finance
  • USA — Nationwide — Transportation: Aviation: Transactional

Want to talk more about your Chambers USA strategy or submissions? Do you need a review or more detailed recommendations to get started? Jaffe can help. Reach out to Evyan O’Keefe at eokeefe@jaffepr.com or 347.213.7656.