Champagne bottle and glasses on legal awards night

How to win a law firm award: LexRex top tips for winning legal awards

How to win a law firm award? LexRex MD and founder Victoria Moffatt’s top tips for winning legal awards

Awards season is very much upon us and if you have ‘win an award’ on your to do list, but you’re not quite sure what to do next, read on for our top tips for bagging a gong.

Only enter ethical and fairly-judged awards

This is a bit of a crusade for me – I actively dislike awards that are either pay-to-play or that boil down to popularity contests. They give properly judged and considered awards a bad name and are, quite simply, a bad idea.

If you genuinely think your work is good enough to be celebrated, do it the courtesy of entering it into a proper set of awards. Don’t fall in with a bad awards crowd – in my opinion, if you enter this type of award, you undermine the quality of what you do and put your reputation at risk. People are not daft and they can work out that this type of award is poor quality at best and a scam at worst.

Research the categories and check out the previous winners.

This is an obvious step but one that is often over-looked. It’s likely that you will be eligible for several different categories – firm-wide (Firm of the Year), team or specialism (Employment Team of the Year) or on a personal basis (Partner of the Year). But which are you most likely to be shortlisted for or win?

The best way to try and gauge this is by looking at two things initially; the criteria for each submission and the previous winners.

If the categories have previously been won by firms, teams or individuals that have some similarities with your practice, team or you individually (in terms of experience, profile and achievements – for example), then you may stand a good chance. However, if they are nothing like you and their achievements are greater than yours, perhaps consider a different category.

Consider your achievements against those of other potential entrants.

This is a bit tricky, but if you know that your competitors always submit AND they have had a particularly strong year – for example, high profile litigation, merger, very strong financials; then again just stop to consider how your own achievements measure up.

Read and understand the requirements for each submission.

This is an obvious one and it always feels a bit like I’m advising students to read the exam question. However, experience has taught me that it’s sensible to have this conversation early in the process. Ensure that you meet the requirements for the submission you are considering preparing, and that you can meet the deadline.

Check in advance the format required for the submission – is it a written submission, do you need to complete an online form, is there a registration process and / or is there a cost for which you will need prior sign-off?  

Also consider additional steps you may need to take – does the submission requires onerous supporting information, a video or client testimonials? And are these things that you can easily supply, and if so, will they be of a good enough quality?

“If you genuinely think your work is good enough to be celebrated, do it the courtesy of entering it into a proper set of awards. Don’t fall in with a bad awards crowd.”

Mark up the criteria and ensure you meet 80% of them.

Another simple piece of advice and again one that feels a little bit like exam advice.

In addition to checking that the entrant meets most of the criteria, I go a step further and print them, then handwrite in bullets the key supporting information I want to include for each criterion heading. Doing this helps to focus the mind on the previous year’s successes, but also helps to ensure that judges can literally tick the answers off against their criteria list.

Stick to the word count.

Again, this sounds likely noddy advice, but experience shows that it’s still good advice. Word counts are typically limited to 750 – 1000 per submission, so don’t waste your words. Ensure that anything you mention is relevant to the criteria and nothing else. A strong submission is a clear and focussed one.

Provide what you’re asked to provide.

Submission calls for testimonials? Include them. A video? Record one.

‘Up to 3 pages of supporting evidence’, for example, can be more tricky – but again refer back to the individual criteria and ask yourself what evidence you can provide to meet these whilst also tying in with what you’ve written.

Treat a shortlisting like a win.

Being shortlisted is a huge achievement, and we always advise clients to celebrate as though they have won. This goes for any PR activity as well – don’t waste the opportunity to shout about being shortlisted, because if you don’t win – that chance can never be recouped.

Further, a shortlisting is a win, and by that point, you’ve done absolutely everything you can. So you may as well bask in the glory.

And if you do win, shout even more loudly!

What do we mean by ‘shouting loudly’?

  • Get your socials in order – great imagery, quotes from judges if any are available, video content. These are just a few examples of content you could create. You can also tag your fellow shortlisted firms / teams / individuals / the organisers in order to start to generate likes, comments and shares.
  • Blog and newsletter content – share the good news internally and externally.
  • Email signatures – use the official logos (review the usage policy first to see what you’re permitted to do)
  • Consider whether you can use the result in signage – perhaps as decals in a prominent window or door.
  • Celebrate internally – print and display posters or create something a bit daft in celebration, or even something as simple as celebratory cakes. Whatever fits in with your culture. If an individual has been shortlisted, buy them a gift – cake, prosecco, lunch out, vouchers. Again, whatever feels right and appropriate for your culture.

Finally, for some additional tips, please also check out our 2021 awards top tips blog.

We write a lot of award submissions for clients, and over the years we’ve supported clients in shortlistings and wins across most, if not all, of the major legal awards schemes. We understand what goes into a winning submission and we also understand law firms.

If you would like to know more about our award drafting submissions, or if you’d like to know more about me, LexRex or our services – feel free to email me on or book a 30-minute Zoom with me.


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