Law Firm Awards, Ratings and Directories
Law firm awards programs can be useful public relations and business development tools. While most legal marketers focus on existing awards such as Chambers and Partners, Martindale Hubbell, U.S. News Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms, Super Lawyers, Avvo ratings, Legal 500, Lawdragon and other similar ratings, it is also possible to create law firm awards programs for your target audience.
Applying for Law Firm Awards and Ratings
There are many law firm awards or ratings for which your organization or attorneys may qualify. In addition to the usual list, look to your local business journals, chambers of commerce, trade publications and bar associations. Many of these outlets conduct pro bono service, women-in-business, and young executive/attorney awards each year. For example, the National Association of Women Lawyers gives out several recognitions each year to both women and men in areas such as professional achievement, diversity, and leadership. In addition, check national trade publications and the American Bar Association for additional law firm awards opportunities.
Apply for awards that recognize community service, pro bono work, websites, firm marketing and public relations, diversity, and anything else for which your firm or its attorneys stand out. Be sure to set aside a budget line each year for law firm awards applications, as they can become quite expensive.
In lieu of a project management system, a simple way to track law firm awards is to use an Excel spreadsheet. Track the name of the sponsoring organization and all of its contact information, the early-application and final-application deadlines, the criteria for application, the application fee, your firm’s submissions, and the results of your submissions. You can then use this system to manage your law firm awards applications from year to year.
When your firm or an attorney receives an award, you will want to let others know about it. Your firm should:
- Write a press release surrounding each award and send the press release along with the appropriate headshots (with captions) to your local media and bar publications.
- Add the press release to your website.
- Post a link to the press release about the award on social media.
- Include the award information in your firm’s newsletter.
- Include a link in your attorneys’ e-mail signatures to the award information on your website.
- Leave copies of your press releases in your firm’s lobby, conference rooms and meeting areas.
A great example of a law firm website that includes “Awards and Honors” used to support the firm’s marketing and public relations initiatives is Jenner & Block LLP, which can be found on the law firm’s homepage at www.jenner.com. To showcase recent awards and accomplishments, Furia Rubel features our recognitions on the Who We Are page of our website.
Law Firm Awards vs. Law Firm Directories
A partial list of awards, ratings and directories include:
- Best Law Firms
- Best Lawyers in America
- Chambers and Partners
- Global 100
- Lawdragon 500 and Lawdragon 3000
- Leading Lawyers
- Legal 500
- Legal Experts
- Multicultural Law Top 100
- National Law Journal 250
- Of Counsel 700
- PLC Which Lawyer? Yearbook
- Super Lawyers
- The American Lawyer (Am AMLaw 200)
- The American Lawyer A-List
- The Vault
- S. News Best Lawyers
- Who’s Who Legal
The 2018 Top 100 Law Firm Directories list is even more comprehensive.
Creating Law Firm Awards for Your Target Audiences
The premise of a law firm awards program is to celebrate those companies and individuals who exemplify the characteristics that resonate with your firm’s culture. Law firm awards programs should have meaning and be created as a way to differentiate your law firm and its attorneys.
The title of the law firm award is paramount, as it needs to reinforce your law firm’s brand and still be unique in and of itself. When creating an award, think about what you want it to accomplish. Ask:
- Are we trying to reach a particular niche industry or market segment?
- Are there any prominent figureheads in our industry or firm for whom the award should be named?
- Is there an innovation, program or methodology that has helped people, the community or target industry that can be acknowledged?
- What criteria will demonstrate the characteristics of the award?
- What exactly is the award? Does it have monetary value? Is it a donation to the awardees’ charities of choice? Is it pro bono service for a year to a nonprofit? Is it a plaque or statue?
- How will you promote the award?
- Will you require applications to the award?
- Who will serve as judges to choose the recipient of the law firm award?
- How will you present the award?
One example of a law firm awards program is White and Williams LLP’s Virginia Barton Wallace Award which was created in 2006. In fact, the award was last presented to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2013. The law firm award honors Virginia “Ginny” Barton Wallace, their first female partner, who passed away in 2002.
According to a former marketing director who was at the firm when the award was created, the goal in establishing the award was to focus on women leaders in business and in law. They honored the memory and contribution to women in law while reaching a strategic audience of corporate women thought leaders and decision makers. The award included a $10,000 check, which was presented to a charity of the recipient’s choice.
Every stage of communications surrounding an award lends itself to public relations and marketing. If the award includes a call for applications, the request should be distributed to a strategic audience including the lawyers in your firm, referral sources, industry thought leaders, clients and others. The request can be shared on the firm’s website, via email, on social media platforms, and in various other ways. Once the awardee is chosen, there is an opportunity to announce the recipient in advance of a recognition event using various communication channels. Finally, when the recognition is presented, the law firm award should be promoted on the various channels used for the call for applications.
Whether or not you believe in ratings, directories and awards programs, your clients may believe in their validity. It is important to take advantage of these marketing opportunities. Law firm awards and directories are an easy way for attorneys to promote their law firm.
Copyright © 2018 by Gina Furia Rubel. All rights reserved.
First published in 2007 | Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2007941911
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