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Legal 500 Game Changer in Client Referees.

Huge improvement for law firms - Legal 500 changes the survey mode for your Client Referees. Opportunity for first movers for a strong ranking.

Opportunity for first movers for a strong ranking.

Legal 500 has secretly and quietly carried out a revolution in interviewing Client Referees. The research process to date has been as follows:

  • Legal 500 collected Client Referees from law firms and then mailed questionnaires to these contacts.
  • Law firms had to hope that the emails from Legal 500 would eventually reach the Client Referees.
  • Regularly, however, these emails never reached the Client Referees.
  • Law firms were therefore forced always to ask their Client Referees whether the emails had been received.
    If not, the Client Refereesmust be asked to check the spam folder.
  • Mails from Legal 500 tended to hide in the spam folder because Legal 500 was listed as a spammer by numerous mail servers.
  • If the emails were not in the spam folder, the law firms had to ask Legal 500 to send the mails again.
  • However, this was rarely done. Instead, law firms were told that Legal 500 wanted to respect the privacy of the Client Referees and that they could not say whether the client referee would really receive another mail.


Of course, it is very unpleasant to bother clients with such requests. Your contacts have agreed to help you with a contribution as a gesture of goodwill, and suddenly, they have to go on a mail hunt with the IT administrator.

Legal 500 already experimented with the new solution last year. For a few selected jurisdictions, there was an option for law firms to send a specific link to Client Referees.

In this link, the questionnaire was located. Since law firms are not on their clients’ spam lists, the mails were always delivered.

Legal 500 Questionnaire for Client Referees
Suddenly, however, this link was no longer active. Legal 500 had to evaluate the experiment first.

Legal 500 seems to be rolling out the link in many juristidictions. But check please if this applies to your country, because e.g. the link is not available for the US. The new process for interviewing Client Referees works as follows:

  • There is an orange button on the Legal 500 website under each jurisdiction says “Provide Your Feedback on Law Firms”.
  • After clicking this button, the user is taken to a web page containing the questionnaire for the Client Referees.
  • Users can fill out and submit this questionnaire directly from their browser.
  • Law firms only need to send the link to this page to their Client Referees.

For Germany Banking & Finance, the link looks like this:

Legal 500 Link to the questionnaires for Client Referees

This move by Legal 500 is in striking contrast to Chambers and Partners (Chambers). On the contrary, Chambers focuses on a payment service called Client Referee Management.

Here, Chambers offers to show, for example, whether your Client Referee has been contacted before the start of the research.

That is a very good information, since you know, if another law firm has put your Client Referee forth. 

If you contact your Client Referees regularly yourself, the Chambers tool seems to loose some value, with exception of the point above. Of course, you must at least keep an overall overview of your Client Referees via Excel. That process must also include continuously importing the currently used Client Referees back into the Excel file. In addition, you must pay attention to the structure of your Client Referees.

Legal 500’s move will pressure Chambers to set up the same process.

Although we, as law firm advisors, welcome this move by Legal 500, some critical points remain. First-mover law firms will exploit this now that the link is public. If all 20 Client Referees are guaranteed to receive the link and complete the survey, these law firms will have a dramatically high competitive advantage. 

The argument “bad ranking because no responses from the Client Referees” will no longer apply to them. In addition, they will also have more feedback than the others.

Now is the time to set up a solid process for managing your Client Referees.

The competitive advantage will be there for a short time. Law firms that will climb the ranking ladder through this new process will be difficult to catch up with in the medium term.

Right now Legal 500 says that the link should be used “when there are issues with the standard process.” 

We have been assisting law firms with this task since 2004. You can book a no-obligation initial consultation here.

Law Business Managing Partner Alexander Gendlin

Law Business has been supporting lawyers and patent attorneys with submissions since 2004. Our clients regularly refer to us as the market leader.

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