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WWL Who’s Who Legal is currently collecting matters! Changes in research methodology indicate that the pure reference method has little future viability.

Since 2004, I have dealt with directories and submissions, and I have never witnessed a shift from a pure reference ranking to a complete research method.

In order for us to be on the same page, what is a reference ranking? Such rankings do not collect extensive information regarding a law firm’s cases (matter) and instead evaluate law firms based on a questionnaire.

This questionnaire typically consists of complex queries such as “What law firm do you find to be the best?” or “What lawyer do you find to be the best – Name one” There is no need for argument if you name a law firm.

Due to this and the dearth of in-depth analyses of a law firm’s cases, the Law Firm Rankings Report’s list of Gold Standard Rankings does not include reference rankings.

Gold Standard Rankings conducts a thorough examination of a law firm’s cases. Typically, law firms can submit up to 20 such cases (=matter) per (!) legal discipline to the ranking, much to the delight of a researcher.

Imagine my astonishment, then, when my team showed me the following new part of WWL’s process.

It resembles a baby Chambers submission, and as is the case with children, I earnestly hope that it will continue to mature into a full-fledged matter collection machine – albeit without the terrible structure of IFLR. If WWL reaches such a state, I would advise law firms to participate.

This WWL transformation is remarkable. No one would attempt to tamper with a well-oiled mechanism. I can only presume that the message regarding the vast disparity between reference and research rankings is finally reaching law firms and their clients. That would be a significant incentive for reference rankings to modify their model.

I truly hope that WWL will join Legal 500 and similar publications. It would send a significant message to the market regarding its perception of straight reference rankings.

Currently, WWL makes submissions “entirely optional.” The full WWL information states: “We are now collecting details of work highlights and invite firms or individuals who desire to submit information about their recent work to do so. This is currently limited to transactional work, but we will shortly expand to litigation and regulatory issues as well.”