Despite the fact that most in-house counsel do not make their outside counsel hiring decisions based on directory rankings, they are still important as part of the overall mix of public information about law firms and the lawyers who work at them – especially due to the power of Google searches.

Legal guide rankings can serve as useful third-party recognition that can aid with confirmation of referrals, provide valuable content for PR and branding purposes, assist with recruiting efforts for law students and laterals, and reinforce market position.

In addition, we know that these rankings are important to many lawyers.

Does anyone remember the genius “I am the best lawyer” satirical YouTube video? It did a great job of taking a lighthearted jab at the dynamic between lawyers and the marketing staff who are dedicated to getting them ranked in these directories.

Unfortunately, we can’t just give a lawyer a cape, tell them they’re awesome and call it a day. There’s a lot involved with preparing top-notch directory submissions.

In addition, not all directories are created equal or worth our time and effort, despite what certain lawyers may think.

That being said, it’s always nice to be publicly recognized for your accomplishments and work. It’s even better when you are being patted on the back by your actual clients, which is why Chambers and Legal 500 are considered the gold standard of legal guides.

When I moved to overseeing marketing a mid-size firm from Big Law, I found the legal guides process to be more challenging because of the stiff competition from large firms and the rigidity of some of the practice categories in the directories.

No matter how strong of a year your firm may have had matter wise and how brilliant your lawyers are, it is not easy to compete with the caliber and quantity of the matters, and the brand name clients of the behemoth firms.

Small and mid-size firms can still rank highly in these guides if they are creative and strategic in how they craft their submissions.

It’s crucial to have the right lawyer input, the right client references (meaning actual clients who will speak to the researchers and say the right things!) and most of all – the right matters written in a way that shines a spotlight on your firm and your lawyers.

Given how important these rankings are to many lawyers in the industry, and how they can support branding and business development efforts, let’s learn how to get the best possible results.

Here are some ways to help elevate your firm’s legal directory rankings based on my 20 years in the legal industry.