Global publishing giant Thomson Reuters has launched a London-based pilot of its US Super Lawyers attorney-rating service covering solicitors, the first foreign venture of its kind after more than 20 years in operation.
Described by an adviser to one of the publisher’s UK legal businesses as a consumer-facing alternative to the Chambers directory, the London Super Lawyers solicitor ratings “will focus on solicitors who exhibit excellence in their practice of law”.
The company is inviting peer nominations from practising lawyers for its 2013 London Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists. Solicitors who are selected will appear in a dedicated magazine that is distributed free across the profession and will also be circulated as an insert in the Telegraph Magazine. Firms can advertise in the magazines.
In a recently-launched UK version of the Super Lawyers website, Thomson Reuters says the selection process for the London list “is designed to find indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement”. The process will include peer nominations and research, independent research on all candidate solicitors, and “peer feedback from solicitors who are invited to provide evaluations and comments”.
Solicitors who are selected to appear are given a free listing and cannot pay to be rated or nominate themselves.
Dan Watkins, a founder and adviser to the Contact Law solicitor referral website, owned by FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters subsidiary, said he had had some “arms length” involvement with the London Super Lawyers pilot. He described Super Lawyers as similar to lawyer ratings offered by the Chambers & Partners guide but more targeted at consumers.
The US editions cover both private client and commercial areas of law, and appear to focus more on mid-sized and smaller law firms than the big Wall Street practices.
The US service has been up and running since 1991 in all 50 states, plus Washington DC, and covers private practice attorneys with at least five years’ experience. Just 5% of “licensed active attorneys” in a state are selected. It publishes a number of city- and regional-based magazine editions with local lists of lawyers, which is claimed to reach 13m readers. It also runs a national annual pro bono awards scheme.
In August the US service launched an ‘online attorney video’ feature which enables designated lawyers to present a professionally-produced film about themselves and their practice, after paying an advertising premium. The website states that: “We maintain strict separation between research and advertising. Advertising sales do not begin until after the selection process is completed.”
Heather Walker, senior director of Super Lawyers, said: “We are proud to introduce our highly acclaimed rating service to solicitors in London, providing them with the opportunity for more visibility among their peers and potential clients.”