Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Pick Your Ranking

"The Lawyer" has published its "UK 200 Annual Report 2009" - and it makes interesting reading. I'm sure that I will comment on it again - I've still got to read it through a few times - but today I'd like to focus on the importance of rankings.

Most lawyers are reasonably obsessed about their ranking. How many readers, however, will ask questions about the rankings? "We're the 5th largest firm in the UK" says firm A - without revealing that this is based on average weight of partners. The ranking is useless unless you, as a reader, know what the ranking is and how it is calculated.

The table above (click on it to see it enlarged) shows rankings for ten firms based on the various measurements used by "The Lawyer" in its report. I decided to use the 1st, 11th, 21st, 31st, 41st, 51st, 61st, 71st, 81st and 91st firm as ranked in the PEP (Profit per Equity Partner) to select the firms. Not very scientific, I admit, but at least comparatively random. I then looked for the ranking for these firms in different measurements - Net Profit, Revenue per Partner, Revenue per Lawyer and "The Lawyer's" own "Top 200" ranking.

There was a wide range in the rankings. Even Slaughter & May (ranked number 1 for PEP) was down in 7th as far as "The Lawyer" ranking was concerned. Berryman Lace Mawer ranged from 48th to 151st depending on which ranking you select. I suspect that Taylor Wessing will use their 17th ranking rather than their ranking of 76th for Revenue per Partner.

My point is this: rankings do not provide much in the way of information. They are not a measurement of worth, or of quality. Provision of professional services is a person to person business and so why should we care that Slaughters are ranked number 1 for PEP? I think we should all try to stop worrying about ranking and concentrate on the value that we provide to our clients.

Peter Blair is the Director of Mar-aon Consulting - ranked #1 in the UK*

*in a survey paid for and carried out by Mar-aon Consulting.

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