Friday 2 May 2014

Unqualified praise: when being 816th just isn't good enough

I am one of a large number of people -- 815, to be precise -- who will by now have received a letter from the Market Manager of Who's Who Legal (WWL). This letter opens with the following text:
"I am pleased to inform you that you have been identified by our independent research with clients and peers as being amongst 815 of the world's leading trademark lawyers".
It then appears that, on payment of an appropriately extortionate sum of £1,395, I can have my biography (sic) of up to 265 words published in the WWL directory. After 40 years in intellectual property, that works out as around six and a half words per year. If I'm feeling rich, for £2,100 I can extend this biography to between 265 and 530 words. The top of the range entry, for £2,500, will get me between 530 and 750 words.  I'll have to say goodbye to the copyright, though, since WWL require an assignment of all present and future rights, not to mention a waiver of all moral rights.

I don't suppose that many of the sole or small practitioners who read this weblog will be rushing to spend this sort of cash. They may be wondering if all the time spent qualifying for their professions and honing their skills was worth it. After all, 815 directory entries at even the bottom rate of £1,395 looks pretty much like more than £1.1 million -- more than most readers earn.

The fear factor must impel entrants to reach for their cheque books. According to the invitation, "Absence from a legal directory hinders up to 51.4% of clients from hiring a law firm".  Goodness, how do they ever manage to find one then?  Surely nothing as random as personal recommendations, an attractive website or a decent pair of legs (male or female nowadays).

This blogger would be curious to know what readers of this weblog think of directory entries.  Would they go for them if they could? Do they seriously use them as reference points, either by themselves or when combined with other resources?  How many directories would they pay to be advertised in?  How do they feel about assigning their content?

You may be wondering why this blogger is so cynical about this invitation.  It's because he isn't a qualified lawyer, trade mark attorney or indeed anything else -- and has never even come close to practising. He wonders therefore how effective WWL's independent research might be.


  1. If the definition of an expert is one who knows the subject I am sure a Professor qualifies. Their current list does seem to include some solo practitioners. Rather a lot if you count counsel. Few are paying to have biographies because we all doubt that there are many who rely on such publications to seek out advisers. Nevertheless business development departments preparing tenders like to be able to refer to such listings and so the directories survive. No solo has a business development department (except counsel).

  2. Been there, seen it, done it, bought the T-shirt. At the time, I was a partner in a larger firm, and it was felt appropriate to do so. Net benefit : zero. I can safely say that the entry brought us no referrals or work.

    In a similar vein, I was recently contacted by a company, going under the moniker IPB, that guaranteed me a series of face-to-face meetings with heads of IP from a host of Fortune xxx corporations for a mere 20K.

    Absent the fact that I would likely be unable to service a single such large corporation, let alone several, the marketing agent that rang me had the cheek to ask me to suggest other firms that might be interested! I find it bad enough being scaremongered into buying these opportunities, but being asked to do their homework really takes the biscuit.

  3. Edward Humphrey-Evans5 May 2014 at 09:44

    In further similar vein, I received on Sunday, by way of my company e-mail address, an offer: "MAY 2014 - Openings for patent attorney/patent agent in Paris, France, Dublin, Ireland and the United Kingdom - from a US based firm of - Executive Search for Patent Attorneys and Agents".

    Being a solo practitioner, their executive search obviously knows no bounds, even if they advise that they have been doing this for over 48 years!
    Edward Humphrey-Evans

  4. I received the same e-mail, but it ended up in my spam box !

  5. I was asked to apply for a secretarial position, and although I have nothing against secretaries, maybe I should pay to have my name printed in a stupid directory. I once applied to be in the Whisker's directory but I couldn't get the support of enough cats. Not a problem Jeremy will have. Clearly it's not what you know but who you know!