Research methodology

Building on over 20 years of market experience, the WWL research process is conducted using proprietary digital and in-person qualitative techniques, with 5,000 interviews with leading practitioners occurring annually. More than 250,000 third-party recommendations are gathered each year.

Our research process

Our findings are based on continuous collection, validation and analysis of data. Recommendations and feedback come from eminent private practitioners in the sector or industry in question as well as from corporate counsel or other clients who have worked closely with the nominees.


Preliminary research process

For any new practice area, an extensive pre-research process takes place to identify potential names for inclusion. Firms are generally invited to put forward notable candidates for consideration.

For an existing practice area, our research builds upon that conducted in previous years. The names of practitioners who have received recommendations, nominations or other positive feedback in the area in previous years are collated to form a preliminary nomination list. This is supplemented by suggestions of new potential additions made by firms, corporate counsel and through other pre-research conducted by the WWL research team.


Main research process

The compiled preliminary nomination list is then distributed to all nominated practitioners, requesting their comments via flexible and intuitive online surveys and inviting them to submit the details of client referees to support their inclusion. All feedback received is taken into account when deciding the listings.

Our research analysts in the UK, USA and Asia subsequently conduct telephone and face-to-face interviews with a selection of nominated practitioners to gain further insight into the market and to collect additional feedback on the preliminary nomination list. At this stage, we also contact all client referees put forward, inviting them to appraise the referring practitioner and any other individuals they wish to provide feedback on.

Recommendations for a practitioner within the same firm or Swiss Verein are not considered nor are votes for an individual known by reputation but not first-hand experience.


Post-research evaluation and selection process

Once this process is complete, all of the feedback, votes and nominations received is tallied and weighted on our database using a proprietary in-house algorithm. Our rigorous evaluation framework ensures accuracy and consistency. The preliminary nomination list is then refined to produce a final list of practitioners who, by general agreement, are considered the pre-eminent names in their field.

Eligibility criteria

Anyone wishing to be considered in one of our reports should meet the appropriate broad definition below:

Criteria for consideration

Global Practice Area Report

Anyone wishing to be considered in one of our reports should meet the appropriate broad definition below:

National Report

You should reasonably be considered a national or regional leader in your field.

Future Leaders Report

You should reasonably be considered a future leader in your field. In addition, you must be aged 45 or under on 31 December in the year of the publication (e.g. for WWL: Arbitration - Future Leaders 2023, you must have been born on or after 1 January 1978).

Thought Leaders report and WWL annual awards

Thought Leaders and annual award winners are selected based on existing research. It is not possible to submit directly for consideration or inclusion. You should instead submit for the appropriate global or national report.

Criteria for selection

The standard required for inclusion in WWL’s reports is high. Typically fewer than half of those put forward for inclusion are selected in the final list, sometimes this proportion is considerably lower. Individuals must continue to receive strong and regular feedback to maintain their listing and every listed practitioner's listing is reviewed annually as part of the research process.

We pride ourselves on our rigorous and independent research process; only those receiving the highest number of recommendations from peers and clients are listed in our reports. We aim to ensure our research act as useful tools to private practitioners in search of counsel in unfamiliar jurisdictions as well as to clients in search of a lawyer or expert, and in order to achieve this we uphold the highest standards of integrity. We conduct our research afresh each year and through conversations with practitioners worldwide ask whom they have been working with recently that they could recommend from personal experience.

Firm listings

WWL’s reports do not list law firms or consulting firms, only individual lawyers and experts. The firms whose individuals receive the most nominations in the research are featured in our editorials, but this does not amount to a listing for the firm.


It is not possible to pay to be listed in WWL; only those who score most highly in our independent research are selected.

Tier 1 (Global Elite Thought Leader)

The best of the best across our research, achieved by only around 5% of WWL-listed practitioners

Tier 2 (Thought Leader)

(Selected guides only) Individuals who have performed especially well, around 25-30% of listed practitioners

Tier 3 (Recommended - Global Practice Area Report)

International leaders in their field. Fewer than 50% of individuals considered are selected for inclusion

Tier 4 (Recommended - National Report)

National leaders in their field. Fewer than 50% of individuals considered are selected for inclusion

Tier 5 (Future Leaders)

Likely to be pre-eminent names of the next generation. Selection is limited to practitioners aged 45 and under