Posted by Louise Eckersley, associate director of legal PR specialists Black Letter Communications 
These days there are a myriad of awards that law firms can enter, from those run by titles such as The Lawyer and Legal Business that tend to be focused on larger City and international firms, to more specialist awards such as the LALYs, which recognise the endeavours of legal aid practitioners.
Awards like these, if your lawyers or your firm win or are nominated, can be an excellent way to boost your reputation amongst clients and referrers and can be a great asset to recruitment campaigns. Putting together entries can be time consuming, however, so for those considering whether it is worthwhile, here are some things to think about.
Ensure the awards are reputable. Award ceremonies can be very lucrative for the organisations running them, which means the number of events seems to expand every year.
There is no point in winning an award that no one has heard of and is not considered prestigious, so it’s important to pick and choose. Do your research on the organisers and past winners to check entering is worthwhile and think about whether your target audience will consider a win to be an impressive credential.
Consider your budget. Although awards are free to enter, if you are successful in being nominated you will need to pay for a table. Make sure you have budgeted for this.
Be realistic. Award entries are time consuming. There is no point putting hours of work into entering in countless categories, so look at the criteria and think about whether an individual or a practice area really has a compelling story to tell.
Have they worked on a landmark or high-profile case? Have they acted in one of this year’s biggest M&A deals? For the PR/marketing team, it’s important to say no if you know winning is unlikely.
Ensure you are able to include references. A successful award entry will need third party endorsement. Make sure that you are able to field a client or two who will vouch for your sterling work.
Make the most of the night itself. With large numbers of attendees at events like these, can be a good networking opportunity and inviting clients along to sit on your table is also a good way to build relationships.
If you win, make the most of the accolade. Get the message out on social media, add logos to your marketing material and make a fuss about the winning team or individuals in your internal communications.
Don’t be tempted to send out a press release to legal publications, however – they won’t be keen on publishing news about awards affiliated with a rival title.
If you are targeted in the awards you enter and ensure you capitalise on the event and on any success you have, entering can be a great way to build your brand reputation.