THE BEST ENDORSEMENT TO LMA LEGAL? OUR CLIENTS.
LMA Legal took, during the first quarter of 2018, the corporate decision to withdraw from all the legal guides and lawyer rankings. At LMA Legal we believe that these guides, not only do not reflect the reality of the market, but are strongly sweetened by the business behind them: advertising and the sale of products and services related to being ranked.
After several years of expensive drafting of what they call “submissions”, that is, a description that each office in the firm carries out about itself to appear recommended in these guides, we realised that something did not add up.
Firstly, these online lawyer guides began to give us awards for the best law firm in Spain for areas of expertise that had nothing to do with our specialty. In our case it is very easy to identify, we are a small office (sorry, never say small, say “legal boutique”!) and exclusively specialised in maritime law. Any other recognition given to us outside this field would make us raise our eyebrows.
Some of these guides gave us the award for the best firm in mergers and acquisitions. It was then when it became apparent that it was not possible for this type of guides to carry out any type of “research”, as they call it, of the legal market. A few weeks later, oh surprise, we received an email from that legal guide requesting an amount of money to accept the award and another one to promote the award.
Other guides and rankings, whilst not so scandalous, are I our opinion seeded with many deficiencies. Firstly, very seldomly the negative changes in law firms are reflected in the guide. Everybody is great and shiny there. Which makes perfect sense. How can those negatives, wrongs, mistakes, office closures, etc. appear published if neither we law firms air our problems and nor do those guides seem to discover them? Or if they do find out, what would be the point of publishing them and, by so doing, antagonise those who in fact are their clients?
In those listings, “small” law firms like ours are indeed ranked. Despite our size, we are able to manage thousands of maritime and international trade files on a yearly basis. Big law firms also appear listed next to firms like ours, at the same level as those considered small. When you ask the “researchers” how is that possible, their answer is that ” that office advised a company to tie the financing of the purchase of a ship.” That is, you are at the same level if you do a single deal, and in finance law, which has nothing to do with maritime law, than if you make thousands of files a year in maritime law. Those big offices are great in their field, no doubt about it. In all the general areas that they cover. We do honestly take off our hat. But for a legal ranking guide to consider that one is equal to one thousand and that it deserves to be endorsed at the same level … our offices don’t want to appear in such a legal rank.
Neither our office, nor our clients nor, of course, our team, which every day works with the utmost passion to provide our clients with the best possible service, are deserving any of it.
And indeed, once you are listed next to the big names, the same happens: calls, messages and more messages for you to pay to advertise in the guide, pay to promote your listing, pay to have a plate with your name on it hanging from your office.
At this point, one could be tempted to think that not participating in this game could be because we have never reached the top in them. Our Managing Partner has appeared several consecutive years as leading individual. Our Spanish office in Vigo was the first Galician office of all times to be listed by these guides in our field of expertise. Our Barcelona office was also ranked at the very top of one of those guides.
And from that top, we left. We have participated in that game for several years, and we believe it is wise to rectify. The method that these guides use, in our opinion, does not work. It is a rollercoaster of pay, pay and pay and very little of truly investigate the market and reflect it as it is. It is a game that also requires a significant investment of time and money to all of us in the firm. So much so that sometimes you even have to outsource to marketing companies to draft those “submissions” for you to lodged them with the legal guides. Large offices are recommended transversally, in areas where they have an irrelevant percentage of the specialised sector in question. Minor firms, and even individual solicitors with an impressive client portfolio, do not even appear mentioned.
Even more disheartening is to see how sometimes those “researchers” who recommend those large offices that only carry one maritime file end up being retained by them as business development directors or similar posts, as we could see months before making the corporate decision to leave this game.
That is why in the summer of 2018 we asked all those guides to remove any mention of our law firm and our lawyers, forcing them to delete all our data, both corporate and individual, also demanding that they stop using our name and trademark. And that is why, since then, none of us are involved with this raking, listing and award business.
Whoever wants to play that game, is indeed free to do so. And that who wants to sell that kind of services, certainly deserves all our respect. But in this day and age, we believe that our firm should not participate in it. Our best recognition is not the legal onanism of seeing the name of oneself paid by oneself hanging on a wall, or appearing listed in a ranking.
The best endorsement we can have is to see that clients keep calling, keep coming to the office, and that our market and internationalisation continues to grow solidly and that everyone in our firm continues to work with the same passion doing what we do best.
Thank you very much to all our clients for rewarding us with their continued confidence and trust.