Friday 18 July 2014

When being 816th just isn't good enough: a response from Who's Who Legal

At the beginning of May I posted an item on this weblog, "Unqualified praise: when being 816th just isn't good enough", which commented on an email which I had received from a publication called Who's Who Legal. It read, in relevant part:
"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".
... 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. ...

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".
April French (Assistant Editor, Who’s Who Legal) has kindly responded to this blogpost. She writes as follows:
"... let me tell you a bit more about how our research process works. Individuals are selected for inclusion based solely on recommendations received from corporate counsel and private practitioners [this may well be the case, but it still begs the question as to which corporate counsel and private practitioners might have recommended me when I'm not a practitioner]. Only those receiving the highest number of recommendations are selected for inclusion. During the research process, your name was recommended to us on several occasions for your trademark work and you were therefore shortlisted for the final edition [at this point I found myself wondering: might the "recommendations" be culled from the increasingly meaningless endorsements that people give on LinkedIn? I've been recommended by many people whom I don't know, for skills I don't have and services I don't provide, according to a regular flow of emails headed "Congratulations, Jeremy! Endorsements help show what you're great at"].

Unfortunately, as you point out in your blog, you are not a lawyer and are therefore not eligible for listing [well, that's a relief]. The aim of the publication is to act as a reference tool and to enable clients to find private practitioners who are available for hire. We will therefore have to remove your current listing from our website – thank you for bringing this to our attention.

We take every effort to ensure that our publications are a fair representation of the marketplace and pride ourselves on the integrity and authority of our findings. This has been recognised by our publishing company having been awarded the Queen’s Award for International Trade [here are the guidance notes for businesses applying for the award. A word search was unable to find the words 'integrity' or 'authority']. We can only apologise on this occasion for not having done our due diligence in reference to your qualifications. ..."
I'm grateful to Who's Who Legal for taking the trouble to explain their position, and I'm happy to accept their apology. However, I can't help feeling uncomfortable about the selection process, or about the functional utility of directories of this nature.  Again, readers' thoughts are invited -- particularly from those who have had either good or bade experiences of listing themselves in them (my original post received five comments -- a very small number but pretty high by SOLO IP standards).


  1. Not a lawyer, indeed! There are many people who do not practise law but who are properly to be referred to as "lawyers", and you, Jeremy, are surely a prime example.

  2. Jeremy, you should be more careful in future. Misrepresenting yourself in a manner that leads others to believe you are something you are not is surely wrong!

  3. For the record I would trust you Jeremy with all my patents (though of course I would want to see your certificates, etc, first)