Lexcursions – Top 50 Law Firms

1 April 2014 | Published in Archive of Everything, Blog, Featured, Law Society Journal, News, Writing | Comment

Jucha Legal commercial law in-houseI received a surprising email last year: “This e-mail is to let you know that you have been nominated for Australia’s Top 50 Law Firms 2013.”

I’d never heard of Top 50 Law Firms. And while my law firm might indeed be a ‘top’ one, I certainly hadn’t nominated it for an award.

I had a look at top50lawfirms.com.au. The site says it is “the premier site for discovering who the legal industry believes to be the cream of the crop”.

Half in jest, I forwarded the email to colleagues and friends: “Not sure what to make of this but feel free to vote here. If I win, I think I get absolutely nothing.”

And I thought little more of it until, months later, I received this: “Congratulations! Your firm has taken out a spot in Top 50 Law Firms Australia 2013.”

According to Top 50 Law Firms, I am the principal of one of Australia’s top 50 law firms. Not only that, Jucha Legal is ranked number 7 in the country. And even better yet, Jucha Legal was a category winner and has been declared Australia’s Top Commercial Law Firm.

I scanned the top 50. I had beaten Ashurst (40th), K&L Gates (34th), Allens (11th), Clutz (10th) and many other large firms. Tress Cox won 1st place overall.

Bemused, I contacted the site founder, James Vickery of the IT consultancy, Know IT. We met for a coffee.

“We do a lot of work for law firms,” he said as we sat down. “When we started working for lawyers, people said ‘watch out, you’ll find yourself in court’, but we’ve found lawyers are good to work with.”

“How so?”

“They’re unusually paranoid,” he said. “They take our advice seriously.”

I nodded.

“We made Top 50 Law Firms because we thought lawyers might appreciate it.”

It seems to have worked. He told me that the site now regularly comes up as the top-ranking site in Google searches of “Law Firms Australia”.

“Good search engine optimisation?”

“Nope, from sheer force of eyeballs,” he said. “There are just so many lawyers who keep going back to the site to look at themselves.”

He explained there is no catch with the site. It is pretty much a “if you build it, they will come” sort of a project – without any revenue or sales pitch. Very modern. Very Gen Y.

“Did you ever think of expanding into other industries?” I asked. “Like Top 50 Accountants?”

“Wouldn’t work,” he said. “Accountants aren’t as egocentric as lawyers.”

“What about damage to your brand?” I asked. “Don’t you think it looks a bit silly for a little law firm like mine to outrank the legal behemoths? I know a few lawyers at Ashurst and they’d be aghast to think my firm has been judged to be better than theirs.”

“Good. Maybe they’ll try harder next time. You deserve the award more than them.”

Vickery confirmed – as I had begun to suspect – that site rankings are based purely on votes. No human being moderates the rankings.

He couldn’t tell me the number of votes I’d received. He said he didn’t even know.

“Maybe the award should be for the Top 50 Self-Promoting Law Firms?”

“Maybe, but a lot of these firms have never had any recognition before,” said Vickery. “The site gives something to lawyers to help them promote themselves.”

I contemplated the various ‘serious’ legal awards and their requirements for long earnest applications and references from clients and colleagues. It’s all self-promotion, but it’s much easier, and more fun, to play ball with Vickery instead.

A week later, I visited Vickery in his office (and film studio) to record a video for his site. I made light of the award, but boasted I expect to win Australia’s Top Law Firm in 2014. Check it out attop50lawfirms.com.au/videos/ - and vote #1 Jucha Legal.

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