Legal directories have been both valuable, and a source of frustration, for lawyers and in-house counsel alike. Recently, a new directory appeared on the scene, threatening to disrupt what we’ve all been accepting for the last several decades – Top 3 Legal. In today’s guest post from founder Gareth Stephenson, learn more about the platform, and what makes it unique from other traditional directories.
Top 3 Legal (www.top3legal.com) launched last month alongside some compelling market research. Their key finding was that clients instruct new lawyers based on peer-to-peer recommendations 8x more than they use traditional legal directories. This desire of in-house counsel to collaborate and pool experiences is also reflected in the proliferation of in-house counsel networks.
Law firm lawyers understand that getting new instructions from existing clients is easier than winning mandates from new clients. But should they do more to win new mandates through client referrals?
Top 3 Legal is a new, interactive client/lawyer platform founded by three Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer alumni that has been designed from scratch to enable lawyers to maximise such opportunities. It puts lawyers and clients in control and is totally independent and objective – and it creates a level playing field for all lawyers.
Every lawyer worldwide is entitled to a free profile on the platform – whatever their level of seniority – and can use that to build their market profile. Lawyers have total control over what information they choose to share with the market and can update it at any time. By taking out premium profiles, lawyers can share richer information with clients and target clients such as recent deal experience and sector expertise and also hyperlinks to relevant parts of their firm’s website.
The platform allows them to receive and request recommendations from clients, who contribute their recommendations anonymously (although the recommended lawyer is notified). However, the real power of Top 3 Legal, and a key differentiator from other directories, is the ability for clients to collaborate and share these recommendations privately with their colleagues or network – this creates a live, peer-to-peer legal directory.
So, when an in-house counsel searches for a new lawyer (eg tax lawyer in Hong Kong), the results list relevant lawyers and also show whether those lawyers have been recommended by any of his/her colleagues or wider network. It is also an effective tool for corporates to manage more effectively their use of external law firms and to ensure more consistent use of their panel firm and other preferred lawyers.
Law firms can assess the strength of their client relationships based on recommendations received and in the knowledge that every recommendation received increases the chances of a client referral.
Another key design driver for Top 3 Legal was the frustrations vented by both law firms and clients about the traditional directories. Law firms’ lawyers can all now have a profile without needing any annual submissions and without the related internal and external costs incurred on those submissions.
Similarly, clients highlighted frustrations and fatigue with the traditional directory research process and the limited knowledge of their researchers. The Top 3 Legal platform allows clients to quickly recommend lawyers without any interviews, commentary or scorings. This is an important point as one of the more surprising findings of Top 3 Legal’s market research was that clients actually want to help their preferred lawyers build their market profiles – it’s just the laborious process surrounding traditional legal directories that they want to do away with.
The platform already covers over 150,000 lawyers from over 400 law firms in more than 130 countries – and it’s growing every day. It’s incredibly quick and easy to register and create a profile and provides an excellent user experience for both lawyers and clients compared to traditional directories.
This breadth of lawyer coverage alleviates the problem many clients mentioned concerning law firm websites and the difficulties of finding basic contact information for their lawyers – particularly for associates – and also when trying to find lawyers for particular practice areas and sector expertise.
Lawyers – especially more junior ones – are now increasingly taking ownership of their careers and market profiles and Top 3 Legal believes law firms should strongly encourage them to do so for the benefit of both the individual lawyers and the law firms.