How the Legal 500 is researched
THE client research undertaken for The Legal 500 has two main threads and encompasses both qualitative and quantitative analysis.
As well as contacting those clients referred to us by law firms, for the purposes of verification of their submissions, we benchmark these findings against a detailed representative sample of the UK’s leading companies. In particular, we have ensured that we have contacted a statistically valid sample of leading clients when ranked either by market cap, by business sector, or by region.
We have contacted over 45,000 clients asking for feedback on the lawyers they instruct. Additionally, our team has regular contact with commerce and industry throughout the year.
Although interviewees are often in-house counsel, they are by no means exclusively so; in many cases it is the chief executive or finance director who has strategic responsibility for the buying decision, even where it is the in-house function that may have more day-to-day dealings with the actual providers. We interview investment bankers, commercial bankers and accountants who work regularly with lawyers.
Interviews are based on a standard-form questionnaire. However, supplementary questions and more wide-ranging conversations about both specific law firms and the key issues which inform the purchase of legal services are in fact the norm. This is not least because interviews are conducted by experienced journalists and researchers with a considerable depth of market knowledge. All interviews are non-attributable.
Over the course of the year, we also receive numerous unsolicited comments and recommendations from clients.
Each year we write to firms and chambers/stables nationwide inviting them to provide information on their specialist areas of practice, and requesting specific details of work undertaken in the preceding year (some of which will be confidential and not in the public domain). This approach gives us a standard level and quality of data which, in turn, enables us to benchmark legal services providers with both more precision and more assurance.
We conduct interviews in person or by telephone with specialist lawyers in each subject area - generally the head of department, nominated partner or practising barristers. We also conduct interviews with chief executives, managing and senior partners of law firms, and senior clerks and practice managers. This helps us to obtain a clear picture of the direction the firm or chambers is taking and its strategy.