What do the Lexpert Rankings tell the market about your firm? An analysis of the rankings of the Lexpert Top 30.

August 14, 2013

One of the first business development related exercises I undertook when I moved from global firm White & Case in New York to regional firm Bull Housser in Vancouver was to look at the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory rankings as a baseline measure as to how the firm compared to its peers. It also gave me a good overview of the players in the Canadian market.

When I discussed these statistics with others in the market, it became apparent that many firms have not analyzed the rankings in this way and were interested in seeing their results.

So that I can show you an example, I analyzed the results of the 2013 Lexpert Top 30 and have published the table of results below for your information.

A closer look at the numbers…

As of the date this blog post is published, most firms in our analysis have posted their results somewhere on their website. Some, such as Faskens, give a good overview of their rankings – “Fasken Martineau, a leading international business law and litigation firm, announced today that the total number of firm lawyers ranked in the 2013 Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory jumped by 19% over 2012.”

Others don’t appear to give much weight to their rankings, (or should that read “know the value of”?), and don’t mention them on their website – I couldn’t find a reference to the 2013 rankings anywhere on the site of the firm that tops our table with a huge 52% of lawyers ranked, McInnes Cooper.

Others appear to not know how best to represent their rankings to their clients with postings including incorrect, or ill positioned, numbers. No less than twelve firms posted incorrect counts of the number of lawyers ranked (some higher, some lower), with one example being from Blakes. “Blakes is pleased to announce that 219 of our lawyers were listed in the 2013 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory. “ Blakes have 119 lawyers ranked with a number being ranked in multiple categories for an overall count of 219 rankings from 119 lawyers. You may say that this is just semantics, but for our analysis it matters.

A table showing firm name and number of lawyers ranked

What your rankings can tell you?

A cautious comparison of your firm’s lawyers ranked to total lawyers percentage to that of your peer firms can give you a sense of how you are doing in the Lexpert rankings and in the court of public (or least other lawyers) opinion. The rankings can also imply one or more of the following:

  • Some firms truly have a higher quality of lawyers than others
  • Some firms, and/or their lawyers, have a higher profile than others among their peers
  • Some firms better understand how the Lexpert rankings process work and have someone in their marketing team focusing on Rankings and Directories.

During my time at Bull Housser, I focused on the Lexpert process in addition to raising the profile of the lawyers listed on the survey resulting in a 29% increase in lawyers ranked over two years.

Lexpert Methodology

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the rankings, to quote Lexpert themselves, “Published since 1997, the annual Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory is the most comprehensive guide to legal talent in Canada. It identifies leading lawyers across Canada in 64 practice areas.” Unlike Chambers Global which has researchers who personally interview clients and peers of the lawyers ranked over a multi-month research process, Lexpert’s methodology primarily encompasses a confidential survey sent to a sample of “leading practitioners”. Lexpert disclosed that this year they received an 81.1% response rate from law firm practitioners and a 2.9% response from in-house counsel.

Our Methodology

Our analysis is based on information provided in the 2013 Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory since, as I mentioned above, not all firms published their own results or did not accurately do so. You should be aware of the following points in relation to our methodology:

  • We used percentage of lawyers rather than percentage of partners as we had a fixed number for the denominator for the former but not the latter. This leads to a point that should be noted – results can be skewed in favour of those firms with more partners, since it is partners, not associates, who are generally listed on the ranking survey.
  • The number used for “Total Canadian Lawyers 2013” is that listed in the 2013 Lexpert Top 30.
  • Our count of “# of Lawyers Ranked by Lexpert” is based off of the lawyers listed in the hardcopy edition of the directory not the online version.
  • And yes, we physically counted them, so if I counted incorrectly, apologies and if you let me know I’m happy to fix it.

So now you’ve seen the analysis of the table of rankings, take to the comments and let me know your thoughts on the Lexpert Legal Directory? Do you give it any weight? Do your clients?
If you have any questions about these or any other results, including what the results mean for your firm, share them in the comments below or drop me an e-mail to and I’ll get back to you personally.

Update – September 18, 2013: While looking at Blakes’ website this week, it appears they have edited the article I mentioned above in response to our post. It now reads as follows – “Blakes is pleased to announce that 119 of our lawyers were listed in the 2013 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory. Many of our lawyers were recognized in multiple areas, resulting in a total of 219 rankings.”

Lynn Fitzpatrick Foley
Fitzpatrick Foley

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