Being a referee for an instructing solicitor or a fellow barrister is not quite as controversial as Wayne Barnes’ job in the France v Scotland Six Nations final earlier this yeat. You won’t need any red or yellow cards, television match officials or touch judges. And just in case you didn’t know, Wayne is also a practising barrister. As the interviews for Chambers & Partners are in full swing, and with Legal 500 about to come to life, Justine Edelman offers the following advice.
Say yes: As in life, when you say yes exciting things can happen. When a researcher contacts you do engage. It’s not difficult and it is a real opportunity for you and your set. Book the interview immediately – they have limited slots and they fill up quickly. If it’s an email survey, do it straightaway or save it somewhere where you’ll remember to do it. And do look in your spam folder regularly.
Do your homework: The researcher will send you a list of people s/he will want to discuss with you so take some time to think about each of them. There may be a couple of people missing from the list so do include them too.
The rankings are the battleground: The current rankings are what will interest the researcher most. What do you think of the current tables? Do they accurately reflect the market? Who is missing? Who should move up/down? Has anyone listed died? The editorial teams are understandably anxious to ensure their information is up-to-date.
What is the interview about? They will be most interested in comparing those firms/sets in the tables. Be prepared to identify the lawyers you rate highly wherever they are and whether or not they already feature in the publication. Say where and how they impressed you.
Be kind: The researcher may be very new to the job and is unlikely to be a lawyer. If you are patient and understanding you can forge a good relationship and encourage them to come back to you as a source for future queries. It is worth it. Your researcher today may be the editor in a few short years’ time.
What makes a great referee? Someone with wide experience of the legal market and practising lawyers at all levels. Someone who is happy to share insights into the big cases and who acted on them. Someone who is friendly and happy to educate. Someone who has good examples of who is a great lawyer or advocate.
If you can’t be nice don’t say anything. Nothing is attributed to you directly but it’s not worth being horrid. It’s not necessary and it could come back to bite you. Just think of your obituary.
Make it easy. If you can save the researcher time and a few more calls because you have been helpful you have been a great referee.
Tell people what you’ve done for them: Once you’ve been a great referee tell people what you’ve done. That way, they know they owe you a favour and what goes around comes around.