Abundance of Surveys, Rankings Frustrate Many Law Firms
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Since there are so many legal surveys and ranking systems out there, many lawyers and consumers are confused as to their value.

Summary: There are over 1,000 legal surveys and ranking systems that are used in today’s legal sector, confusing many as to which of these systems are legitimate and which are not.

According to Bloomberg, Richard Pinto finds several new surveys in his office each day. These surveys are usually from a legal award or some sort of legal ranking association.


Pinto, who handles recognitions such as Shearman & Sterling’s global manager of directories, said, “There’s so much rubbish out there that they’re burying the good ones. Unfortunately it can be very easy to dismiss this process and say they’re all a waste of time.”

What does the U.S. News ranking leave out in its surveys of law schools?

As the newly appointed chair of the Committee on Recognitions at Law Firm Media Professionals, Pinto hopes to create a set of common “guidelines” that will be used by ranking systems. The committee first met in January, and Pinto hopes to have a final report created by the end of the year.

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Joshua Peck, the president of the Law Firm Media Professionals, as well as the senior media relations manager of Duane Morris in Philadelphia, said that the group’s goal is to create a standard for rankings and awards that the legal sector can implement. He wants Pinot to create a document that public relations employees can show their law firms to determine which rankings and awards are legitimate. He said, “There truly is a proliferation of surveys and rankings.” These rankings are picked up constantly by news outlets. Just last June, Forbes released an article on the top law firms.

Major changes will be implemented in the U.S. News law school ranking system.

Law firms use various rankings and awards to set themselves apart from their competition when meeting with potential clients or interviewing potential attorneys to work for them.

Do you think uniform criteria should be used in these surveys and ranking systems?

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Allan Ripp, a law firm consultant, said that rankings became popular after legal directories, such as Chambers and Martindale-Hubbell, were created. Eventually, these directories transformed into ranking systems, and law firm partners wanted to be included in these lists.

Currently, there are 1,200 legal ranking systems. Law firm marketing and public relations departments are often pressured to respond to the massive amounts of surveys that land on their desks. In some cases, teams with contract employees must be hired to assist the firms.

Some rankings are based on objective criteria, but others are created on a “pay to play” basis.

The Princeton Review rated law schools by career prospects.

Arielle Lapiano, the senior public relations manager at Paul Hastings, said that adopting a strategy is key. Paul Hastings wants to focus on building its reputation for innovation. “There are some awards we feel really do that for us, like the Financial Times U.S. Innovative Lawyers award,” she explained.

There are some positives to researching the process behind the rankings, although it takes a significant amount of time, according to Claire Papanastasiou, a media relations consultant. “You really get quality time with the parties and you get to know their practice.”

Nicole Weber, the law editor at Vault in New York, said that she would like to see the committee categories recognitions in different ways. She said, “Some rankings are geared for clients, others for students or associates in their second or three year. They can be very different in audience and approach.”

David Burgess, the publishing director for the Legal 500 in London, is glad that the process will be examined: “We should be scrutinized; we should be questioned as to what value we bring to in-house counsel.”

Pinto noted, “We need to bring a little but of order to this Wild West.”

Source: Bloomberg

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