A Proactive Plan for Award Nominations

January 4, 2021

The legal industry offers a dizzying array of awards that recognize the achievements of individual attorneys, practice groups and firms. Some highlight precocious attorneys (40 Under 40 awards). Some praise attorneys or groups who won high-profile cases or closed high-value deals. And some recognize key leaders whose efforts are making law firms more equitable and inclusive places to build careers.

As a law firm marketer, you understand that awards can create powerful opportunities to build brand awareness and bolster your firm’s reputation. And while no amount of preparation can guarantee a win, you know that it’s impossible for a lawyer to win an award she was not nominated for. That’s why it’s crucial to create a proactive plan, making the best use of limited time and energy, to position key superstars and your firm overall to win awards. Here’s how:

Be selective. Let’s get real: the legal industry is so overrun with awards that you could make a full-time job out of pursuing them. But not all awards are created equal. Awards bestowed by trusted industry publications and organizations carry much greater prestige than honors few people have heard of. And some of the pay-to-play options can feel dated in the age of social media. Start with your firm’s vision and strategic plan. What does it value? What are the distinct brand characteristics you are working to emphasize? This should help you identify prominent awards that will reinforce your efforts. Don’t worry about the rest of them.

Research nomination requirements. Create a spreadsheet listing each award’s requirements (which may be as simple as a single form or complicated enough to include interviews, recommendation letters and more). Record deadlines and watch out for nominations that will come due at the same time. Will you be able to manage both, or should you choose one to prioritize this year and save the other for next?

Set calendar reminders. It sounds obvious, but one of the best ways to keep your plan on track is to set intermediate reminders for each step of the nomination process. If an award requires recommendation letters, set up deadlines for identifying people who will write them, collecting and editing their drafts and completing any necessary in-house reviews ahead of the final deadline for the award. Build in plenty of extra time for the predictable interruptions and setbacks that come from a project involving multiple busy people. When it’s time to finally submit, you will have all completed materials at hand and the process should go much more smoothly.

One last question: Who’s going to nominate you for Legal Marketer of the Year?