Legal 500 UK Bar 2022: How do you choose your five best cases?

When your marketing team reminds you that you have two days to get your five best cases to them for the past 18 months (we’ve all been given a bit of wiggle room due to Covid-19’s effects on the Courts) how on earth do you choose?

Remember that the researchers at The Legal 500 are journalists, not judges.  They are highly intelligent but are likely to be in their twenties, not their seventh decade.  Having filed submissions for both magic circle law firms and top barristers’ chambers for years here is my advice:

They can count to five: As the researchers ask for five cases give them five. Not one or twenty, just five.  They actually say three to five but five is best, it’s the perfect number.  Just think Chanel.

Think of your audience: Who are you writing your cases for?  Make them interesting. Yes, the researchers are paid to read them, but do you have to make them suffer for their art? Just make it obvious, tell the story.  Litigation is usually about people falling out in some way. Money is just something to argue about, a way to wreak revenge.

Use plain English: A lay person needs to be able to understand your cases so if you use technical legal terms explain them, or better still, leave them out.  Aim for a Plain English award, not a Golden Bull citation.

What elements does the best case contain? It does depend on your practice, but the following are universal:

  • Big numbers. It sounds obvious but it is helpful if you are involved in big money cases. Everyone can relate to £millions particularly if you are eking out a living on tuppence a year as a junior researcher.  And money is a big driver (along with sex and fear but more on those later).
  • A juicy storyline.  Murder? Cripes. Knives? Ouch. People falling out over a multi-million-pound business. Surely not? Do tell us why, businesses are founded on personalities and those can be big: the ramifications of a fall-out can be huge.  Whatever the story, tell it.  The researchers have thousands of cases to read, make yours interesting.
  • Twists and turns. Cases have twists and turns, take us through them, it takes the reader on a journey and we like those.  Elements of cases can stem from human frailties such as a thirst for power, a need for validation or a desire to punish.  All make for a fascinating story.  As a BFF (litigation partner at a top 20 law firm) says, “get a therapist, don’t litigate”.
  • A great punchline: What was the case about? Why is it one of your top five? If you can’t answer this bin the case, it’s obviously not worth it.
  • Sex and Fear: Big drivers for people in terms of responding to marketing but they have no place in your cases.  If they do, for heaven’s sake tell us more.

Do feel free to get in touch about handyside.legal, my unique web-based system designed to streamline the directories’ submission process which is currently being used by 830+ lawyers.  And the Legal 500 UK Bar deadline for London is 16th April 2021.

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