Skip to content

USA Guide: Referee Contacting FAQs

Have a question on how we conduct referee interviews or general referee questions? Read the Chambers USA FAQs below for more information.

Published on 6 July 2021

When do you contact a firm's referees?

The research schedule lists the research period for when we will be conducting the bulk of our interviews for each category and we aim to have contacted all referees by the end of it. We generally start our referee outreach towards the beginning of the research month, although for sections that span more than one month, the process might take longer. If your referees have been put forward by different firms for different practice areas as well, there is the possibility that they will have been contacted earlier, although the researcher will make sure to ask about your firm as well.

Who will contact the firm's referees?

The majority of referees will be contacted by the researcher listed on the research schedule as being responsible for the area the for which the firm has submitted. However, if the referee has also been put forward by a different firm for a different practice area, there is the possibility that they will have been contacted by another member of the research team. All researchers will ask about all practice areas, jurisdictions and firms the referee has recent experience with. All of this information is stored on our centralized database and can be accessed by all other researchers.

If you would like to give your referees a heads up that we will be getting in touch, the best thing to do is to tell them to look out for an email from someone from Chambers, as opposed to a specific member of the research team. Our emails will always come from an email address ending with

How often will your team contact those clients suggested by a law firm?

We do not want to be a nuisance to your clients, so we have our own internal guidelines in place to limit how often we get in touch with them, a period of around 3 months. However, these are not set in stone and we will use our judgement if getting back in contact someone we believe would be happy to speak to us again.

How do you reach out to referees?

Initial outreach is by email. We try to set up a time to speak over the phone or provide a questionnaire for the referee to complete. If we haven't heard back from the referee in question, we may follow up with a phone call or email, although this is wholly dependent on the researcher's schedule and the progress of the research.

What questions do you ask?

When we talk to clients, we keep our conversations open-ended to try to ensure that we speak about all firms that have put forward this individual as a reference.
We essentially want to determine:

  • The nature of the relationship between the firm and referee
  • The type of work that the firm has handled for the referee in the last year or so (if applicable)
  • The referee's views on the quality of the service provided (including constructive criticisms)

Do you ask referees about other firms?

Yes, we try to get as much feedback as possible on all the firms that the referee in question has used but putting them forward as a referee guarantees we will ask them specifically about their interactions with the firm(s) that put them forward. Our researchers are trained to be appropriately probing and elicit as much information about the quality of the legal services they receive from all firms.

Will you tell me which referees you have spoken to?

No, we do not reveal the names of the referees we have and haven't spoken to. We interview everyone on a confidential basis and take great care in protecting our sources.

What can I do if one of my firm's referees says they haven't been contacted?

We completely understand that emails get lost, accidentally deleted or caught up in spam filters, so the most important thing to do is to get in contact with the researcher assigned to the practice area and location you are submitting for (as listed on the research schedule). We'd ask that you collate the names of all the clients who haven't heard from and their correct email addresses into one email, and send it to the researcher while research is still underway.

We will be happy to follow up, however we will do so in accordance with our own client contacting guidelines. Due to the confidentiality of our interviews, we won't provide any additional information about whether we have tried to get back in touch with the referee or have been successful in speaking to them, however there would have to be a good reason why we would not follow up with them.

Can I ask my references to reach out to the researchers directly?

Please check with the researcher, as listed on the research schedule, to see whether that is something they would be happy for you to do. Many of them will be happy for you to do so, but it will depend on their schedule and workload. We are trying this approach for the first time this year.

About Chambers and Partners

Chambers and Partners is the leading independent research company delivering detailed rankings and insight into the world's leading lawyers, employing a team of over 200 researchers who conduct tens of thousands of interviews a year with in-house counsel and third-party experts to delivering detailed insight into providers of legal services. Chambers empowers organizations to make informed decisions when selecting legal services, saving time and resources and reducing risk.

Chambers USA Legal Topics

Chambers USA

View the Chambers USA guide to access market leading reviews, analysis and rankings of the top law firms and lawyers across the country. Visit the page for insights into our research, events and more.