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How to write a winning legal award entry

June 6, 2023

Writing your entry for legal awards is both a tactical and creative activity.

The benefits of legal awards are plentiful. Whether you sponsor, enter, or simply attend their ceremonies, as part of a wider strategy, they can be very effective: an objective recognition of expertise from a reputable body, and a spotlight on your firm and Partners’ innovation in a broad range of areas. They also present the possibility to entice new clients and talent, and a boost to team morale and recognition on top of all that.

But, once you’ve chosen a reputable, suitable award, one that fits your long-term business development and marketing strategy goals, how do you write your entry?

Here, we share three of Kidd Aitken’s legal awards consultancy’s top tips on what to consider when writing your submission. We've put together a complete guide to the legal awards for you here.

1. Read the criteria, carefully.

This may seem like an obvious one — so, it’s surprising how often it’s not done.

Submissions, without the support of a legal awards consultancy, can often be written in a dash to the finish line and without the right people around the table. Important criteria can, often, be overlooked.

Clarify from the start what the judges want, when they want it by, and in what format. Don’t, for example, waste time writing about a deal that happened 18 months ago when they’re explicitly asking for work within the past year. Some legal awards will provide useful fact sheets to help compile the information you need — make sure you use them, to decipher criteria and take advantage of tips for standing out.

By giving the judges what they’re asking for, you give your firm the best chance at winning.

Equally, if after reading the submission criteria you decide that your firm’s expertise does not fit the mould, steer away from entering for the sake of it. Be honest with yourself and, if necessary, move on to look for other awards in which to invest your energy — something that will yield results.

2. Be clear, then concise.

As is the case with legal directory submissions, the complexity of a case or deal, or the innovation of your team, can make your award entry stand out.

However, clearly explaining how a particular deal was innovative in its context is crucial.

Describe what makes a matter ground-breaking in its resolution or jurisdiction. Explaining your team’s innovative thinking should also demonstrate an understanding of the wider markets and contexts in which you operate. Award-winning entries won’t always be the biggest or most financially lucrative deal. Smaller firms are equally able to demonstrate their innovative capacity — it’s the originality that counts.

Once you know what you’re talking about, your words need to cut through the noise of other submissions. This is done by properly honing the content you submit. Two quick tips here are:

1. Avoid shoehorning information into your entry to meet the word limit.

2. Avoid ‘legalese’ — complicated jargon could irritate the judges, particularly if used to make a matter seem more complex than it really is.

Rather than waste characters on things like other awards you’ve won, tailor each entry to each award, rather than assume the award will tailor itself to your entry.

3. Ask a third party.

Finally, a third party, distanced from your firm, could provide valuable advice.

An informed, objective opinion — free from internal pressures or politics — can help focus and trim your entry to focus on what matters. This is where legal awards, legal directory, and legal marketing consultancies become invaluable by giving a detached view on the submission. Their law firm research builds an overview of strategic direction, to build a targeted approach.

Make the most of winning.

Legal awards are, put simply, time very well spent.

As our post on the benefits of legal awards describes in more detail, nominations and wins create a culture of recognition, differentiate firms and Partners in the competitive legal marketplace, and build reputation for retention and winning of new clients and colleagues.

To stand the best chance of winning, craft your entries with care, consideration of criteria, and time in mind — not to mention in the right people’s calendars.

If you would like support on the legal awards cycle, from research to writing, all the way through to what to do when you’re nominated or win, get in touch with Kidd Aitken Legal Marketing’s team of experts today.

If you would like to find out more about the legal awards cycle, read Your Complete Guide to Legal Awards, read about our work as alegal awards consultancy, or get in touch with Kidd Aitken Legal Marketing’s team of experts today.

About Kidd Aitken

Kidd Aitken Legal Marketing was founded in 2015 by two previous Chambers and Partners editors, Daniel Kidd and Jacob Aitken.

Our team of more than 50 global experts work with international law firms on their legal directory submissions and legal award submissions. Having crafted more than 10,000 submissions across our collective careers, and with our founders being ranked in the top 3 legal directory consultants in the world, we are now the world’s largest legal directory and awards consultancy.

About the author

Kate Ledigo is a Managing Consultant at Kidd Aitken Legal Marketing. Her experience across the legal industry is wide and varied: with specialist cross-border disputes firm Omnia Strategy, Mishcon de Reya’s Business Development team, and now with Kidd Aitken. She oversees a portfolio of key client relationships and advises leading international law firms in respect of their legal directories and awards submissions.

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