Be the Best: Winning Award Submissions

How do you know who’s doing the best work in your industry? By “Best Of” lists, of course! At least, that’s the idea behind them. Done right, they are an important piece of marketing collateral.

Award submissions to those “leader” lists can be an overwhelming amount of work. To manage the process, pick the most well-known and respected lists in your field. Then attack them strategically*.

I favor Chambers and those run by media outlets, such as the National Law Journal, because they are trusted brands that have a vigorous vetting process. You also get great electronic exposure that other lists can’t muster. If you can’t find the submission deadline on the site’s call to submit, you will find it on the outlet’s editorial calendar.

Select one or two lists to target so the nomination process doesn’t become unwieldy. And avoid pay-to-play lists at all costs. Other than nominally boosting your Google search hits, these are utterly useless and spammy.

Here are some tips to maximize your nomination chances:

Showcase Recent Work: No sitting on past laurels. List matters from the past couple of years.

Limit Your Offerings: Pick one or two matters and craft compelling narrative about what made the case or transaction unique.

Go For Details: The judges are only human. An engaging story will draw them in. How long was the jury out? How quickly did the deal close? Did you take over right before trial or summary judgment? What bullets did you dodge? What was the potential liability and risk involved? Make it snappy.

Include Kudos: Add comments from recent recommendations on LinkedIn from current clients and co-counsel, descriptions from Chambers, or mentions of positive media coverage. Always ask for permission, of course and label kudos correctly.

Present the Full Picture: Add policy work, public service, pro bono, and leadership positions. A balanced attorney is “Best Of” material.

Tailor Your Content: Don’t use the same submission template. Tailor each one to the requirements listed, and stick to them. If they ask for 350 words, don’t turn in 450. If they have a specific form, use it.

Don’t Exaggerate Or Oversell: Stick to the facts. Unless it was truly a landmark or bet-the-company case, don’t pad your submission with these tempting descriptors.

Be Realistic About Your Chances: If you didn’t have a strong year, don’t apply. You don’t want to cry wolf with an outlet by building up a stream of lackluster nominations. Respect the decision of your marketing team to sit this one out.

You can use this process to update your firm bio and LinkedIn profile, which likely needs to be done anyway. These tips also work well for keeping those fresh.

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