There are dozens (and that’s putting it mildly) of law firm awards and accolades, not to mention the various lawyer profiles published by regional business journals and newspapers. In fact, some large law firms have dedicated staff members who are solely responsible to coordinating and writing award submissions—bless their hearts! To help ensure their efforts are not in vain, every word of the nomination—up to the maximum word limit—must count.
Just put yourself in the judge’s shoes. Imagine it is the day after your publication’s annual award submission deadline and you are sitting at your desk, hunched over a towering stack of nominations—all boasting about “go-to” lawyers with “extensive experience.”
How would you whittle down the stack to 20 inspiring individuals? What submissions would jump capture your attention?
In Ford’s speech titled, “Writing Successful Award Nominations,” presented at the LMA Virginias Continuing Marketing Education Conference on October 19, 2012, Ford offered 10 tips on how to write a compelling award submission.
1) Follow directions. Nothing is more frustrating to a judge than reviewing a submission that does not follow the publication’s specifications.
2) Obey word-count limits.Brevity is appreciated, but excessively lengthy submissions are not.
3) Listen to the editors’ guidance. They will tell you what details really count, so give them what they’re looking for!
4) Follow the basic story format. Open strong, set the scene with a brief description of the matter, establish the stakes, describe the obstacles, show how the attorney overcame that obstacle, and describe the aftermath.
5) Tell a story. Keep the judges awake by telling them a compelling story. Remember, every story has a hero, a villain, and a challenge the hero must overcome.
6) Details matter. Set the scene by describing details that bring the story to life.
7) Emphasis why your story matters. Most case wins or transactions worth an award are important to the client for a reason. Where the stakes high? Did the case set a precedent that other companies in the industry will follow?
8) Explain complexities to layman. Avoid legal jargon, but also avoid omitting details because they are too complex to explain. Break down the story in simple terms to which the judges can relate.
9) Avoid passive voice.Ford was adamant about this point. Ford adamantly stressed this point.
10) Avoid fluff words.Many “seasoned” lawyers with the “depth and breadth” of knowledge in a particular area of law have handled “impressive” matters. So what makes your lawyer stand out?