The Best Law Firms® Research Team hosted an inaugural informational webinar this week, offered to an exclusive selection of firms with Best Law Firms rankings eligibility. Led by Best Lawyers’ Director of Research & Development Elizabeth Petit, the Best Law Firms Team was joined by several law firms eager to learn more and refresh their knowledge about the awards submission process as pivotal deadlines in the Best Law Firms research cycle approach.
The webinar began with an overview of the Best Law Firms history, from its inception in 2009 to the current research cycle for 2024 edition awards. An explanatory breakdown of rankings, which are segmented by a firm’s practice areas and office locations, demonstrated how rankings are awarded nationally and by metro, practice area and tiers 1, 2 and 3. Firms eligible to participate in submissions for the upcoming Best Law Firms edition must have at least one lawyer recognized in the current edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.
During the submissions process, firms are asked to provide names of clients or professional references (judges, expert witnesses, other attorneys and subject matter experts) to provide commentary on the firm’s work in specific areas. With the goal of making client and reference submissions as straightforward as possible for all firms, administrator portals offer direct submission via web forms, Excel spreadsheets and repurposing previously submitted clients.
Once firms have completed client and professional reference submissions, Best Law Firms will send brief surveys to each submitted name via email and ask the references to complete a survey that rates the firm’s work in six key areas of criteria. During this time, firms are also reminded to complete the Best Law Firms survey, which asks for firmographic information about the firm’s work for the last calendar year.
Best Lawyers and Best Law Firms both thrive on long-standing methodology and tradition, and this webinar brought visibility into those processes. The event reviewed not only the importance of submissions but also offered insider knowledge on the most efficient ways to complete each component of the Best Law Firms submissions packets.
While participation in submissions processes, including filling out the Law Firm Survey and submitting clients and professional references, does give firms a score boost in the overall data collection for rankings, it’s the feedback received from clients that offer the most benefit to firms. These surveys are the most effective way to move the needle toward a firm’s desired rankings.
The session closed with a Q&A, inviting participants to ask questions and interact directly. Here are some of the participants’ questions:
Question: What do we recommend for a family law firm whose clients may not want to participate?
Answer: This is the exact scenario for why Best Law Firms began accepting professional references in place of clients. Industry experts may be submitted rather than personal firm clients, and all data collected from the surveys will be weighed the same.
Question: Should firms focus on submitting references for Best Law Firms’ process for attorneys who have not been ranked yet by Best Lawyers?
Answer: Best Law Firms only accepts references for practice areas in which a firm is eligible, which align with the practice areas your firms’ awarded lawyers are recognized for. Submissions pages won’t accept references in practice areas for which a firm is not eligible.
Question: How many attorneys can be promoted within and outside the firm?
Answer: Firms are not limited to the number of attorneys who can be nominated or recognized by Best Lawyers. For the traditional Best Lawyers awards, it is recommended that firms only nominate lawyers who have been practicing for more than 10 years and have made partner status. For Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® accolades, this is open to lawyers who have been in practice for 5-9 years and have not yet made partner status.
For professional references in the Best Law Firms process, there is no limit to how many names firms can submit. Any person with whom the firm has worked with and who can speak to the firm’s strengths in a professional capacity via survey may be submitted. Attorneys who practice at your firm may not be submitted as references.
Question: How can my firm discern if an attorney from the firm has received a Best Lawyers recognition?
Answer: Firm administrator portals offer reports showing the names and practice areas of all currently nominated and recognized lawyers for Best Lawyers and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch accolades. This section can also be used to view reports of current Best Law Firms rankings and eligibility.
Please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for information regarding the status of lawyers and firms.
Question: If my firm doesn’t get responses from references, how much does this affect our Best Law Firms rankings?
Answer: Firms will not be penalized if references do not participate. All firms will receive credit toward rankings for filling out the Law Firm Survey and submitting references. This participation credit counts toward your firm’s overall score. The analysis received from clients does provide pivotal data that we can also use to put toward overall firm scores. Because the data culminates in overall firm scores, this is the best way to help influence firm rankings. Firms are encouraged to submit references they believe will be most receptive to filling out the survey.
If you have questions about previous rankings, the Best Law Firms team can help pinpoint impacting factors that may be affecting overall firm rankings.
The full webinar is available below. As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns.