Cobbetts dumps Legal 500 and rethinks stance on Chambers

Manchester-based Cobbetts is pulling out of Legal 500 and intends to review its position on Chambers & Partners in the year ahead.

Michael Shaw, managing partner at Cobbetts, says that the decision to pull out of Legal 500 is based on the directory's method of research rather than the fee to place a submission, which he estimates costs £2-3,000.

He says: "We thought there was a more scientific way that Chambers goes about [compiling the directory] than Legal 500. We thought that [Chambers] does more research out in the market and the institutions."

Cobbetts is the second firm that has recently decided not to submit an entry to Legal 500.

Last year, DLA announced that it would be pulling out of the directory but added fuel to the fire by also withdrawing from Chambers (The Lawyer, 11 December).

DLA managing partner Nigel Knowles, says: "We made a decision that was right for DLA and I have been quite surprised by the level of interest that our move has received.

"We have been even more surprised by the unanimous support for the commercial logic of the decision."

Shaw says that although there are no plans to pull out of Chambers, the firm will be reviewing its policy in six months. On directories in general, Shaw says: "I don't think that it is the clients that use them, I think it is mainly other firms that look in them."

One source says that although a number of top 20 firms in the past have indicated that they would consider reviewing their policy on inclusion in the directories, "law firms are led by the nose on this issue".

The move by Cobbetts and DLA will compound the findings of the Wheeler Report, published in 1999, which found that only a small number of respondents felt directories were important and more than half felt they were not very important or not important at all when clients were selecting law firms.

Chambers and Legal 500 were unavailable for comment.