New for 2021: what are our new Law Society Awards categories, and why should you enter?

We're delighted to announce that the Law Society Awards are once again open for entries. It’s never been more important to celebrate the outstanding work of our profession.

Law Society Awards 2021 excellence in law

Last year, the legal industry persevered despite significant challenges. Now more than ever, all your hard work deserves to be celebrated.

Whether you have a high-achieving business development strategy you want to shout about or have made strides in your diversity and inclusion work, with so many categories to choose from, there’s a place for everyone to shine. To help you get to grips with the new categories and criteria, we’ve written a quick guide.

This year you can choose from 20 categories, including four new awards for 2021.

The new awards are designed to showcase best practice in:

  • practice promotion
  • the rule of law
  • ethical standards, and
  • practice management.

These are areas of increasing importance for the Law Society and our members, and our awards reflect these.

Read on to find out why we’ve created the new awards, who should enter, and what the judges want to see from you.

Excellence in Practice Promotion

Why did we decide to create this new award for 2021?

We recognise that many solicitors are becoming talented marketers, finding innovative ways to communicate with clients, staff and stakeholders, and we wanted to find a way to celebrate this.

“The last year has forced many firms to become more innovative with how they communicate with clients”, Clive Russell, senior marketing manager at the Law Society and a judge for this category, commented.

“We’re seeing an increased digital presence, and more inspiring and creative campaigns. The Practice Promotion award helps us to recognise firms and individuals who have found effective ways of communicating their key messages.”

What is this award designed to showcase?

The award is designed to showcase firms, teams and individuals who have developed creative campaigns with clear objectives, messaging, channels, execution, audience understanding and, crucially, the quantifiable results.

Initiatives could include:

  • building digital presence to drive new business opportunities and retain existing clients
  • having a strategic approach to sponsorship to positively impact clients, reputation, business and staff
  • using existing channels and opportunities to maximise client and prospect engagement and sales opportunities
  • identifying opportunities in new sectors or practice areas using thought leadership, white papers or other cross-promotional tools

Who should enter this award?

The award is open to any business within the legal industry who has developed engaging and effective marketing, business development, or communications projects.

“We’re interested in hearing from marketing and business development teams within law firms, sole practitioners, legal businesses and in-house teams who have developed creative and inspiring campaigns”, Clive Russell said.

What do the judges want to see?

The judges want to see evidence of:

  • creative and inspiring campaigns
  • identification of clear and, preferably, SMART campaign objectives
  • outlining campaign elements of key messages, how they were conveyed, through what channels and to whom
  • quantifiable results – for example return on investment (ROI), response rates and so on.

Any top tips?

Fay Delavault, head of marketing at the Law Society stresses the importance of showing your work: “Show, don’t tell! Back your points up with facts, figures, key performance indicators (KPIs) and quotes as evidence. Include visuals if you have any – this makes it easier for the judges to see why your campaign was so successful.”

Excellence in Upholding the Rule of Law

Why did we decide to create this new award for 2021?

The rule of law underpins the functioning of our society.

“The pandemic has demonstrated the challenges and importance of upholding the rule of law particularly during emergencies: public trust is vital to ensure a coordinated and effective response”, Leanne Maskell, public law policy adviser at the Law Society, explains.

“Lawyers make a collective effort in serving this purpose, which this award was created to celebrate.”

What is this award designed to showcase?

This award is designed to showcase the vital role that lawyers play in:

  • ensuring laws are followed by everybody, regardless of position, power or status, and
  • holding those who do not follow the law to account, via our independent judiciary in the courts.

Who should enter this award, and what do the judges want to see?

Though all our members have an important role to play in upholding these important principles, this award celebrates those who have gone above and beyond during the most challenging of times, demonstrating exceptional efforts to uphold the rule of law.

We’re looking for evidence of an outstanding achievement in upholding the rule of law, such as demonstrating a high level of perseverance in challenging circumstances and the impact this had.

Any top tips?

Outstanding achievements are not necessarily the most public-facing or dramatic actions, but often the unseen acts behind the scenes that help to keep things in motion whilst in crisis.

We encourage our members to use this opportunity to highlight the acts of courage and tenacity of their colleagues that have taken place during the pandemic and celebrate this important collective purpose of the profession.

Excellence in Promoting High Ethical Standards

Why did we decide to create this new award for 2021?

Upholding the highest standards of professional ethics is important in defining and differentiating the solicitors’ profession, so this award celebrates the teams and firms who show the greatest commitment to promoting high ethical standards through outstanding initiatives.

“Ethics go beyond the letter of the rules to a wider consideration of any situation that may arise in practice”, James Woolf, regulatory policy adviser at the Law Society, comments.

"You say that ethics embody the spirit of the rules as well as the rules themselves. There is much that firms can do to promote a culture in which high ethical standards can flourish, and this award is about celebrating positive actions that are initiated.”

What is this award designed to showcase?

Initiatives that help to promote an adherence to, and understanding of, ethical principles that will aid solicitors throughout their careers, equipping them with the skills to recognise and respond in the right way to any moral dilemmas they might encounter in their work that may be an issue for their clients, or that have the potential to become an issue.

Who should enter this award?

Firms, teams and individuals that are serious about creating a culture which promotes high ethical standards and can prove this through positive initiatives they have taken.

What do the judges want to see?

The judges want to see evidence of:

  • innovative use of case studies to promote deeper awareness, discussion and consideration of ethical choices
  • exploration of ethics through film or live drama
  • use of interactive technologies which place the user at the centre of an ethical dilemma
  • exploration of the challenges posed by ethical choices in the development of automated decision making in technology with deployment of artificial intelligence (AI)
  • partnerships with universities or centres of ethical excellence
  • successful panel discussions, or guest speaker events
  • evidence of ethics training for fee-earners and staff
  • insights and thought pieces on ethics

Any top tips?

Firms that are likely to be successful in the award will be able to show:

  • initiatives that provoke discussion and consideration of ethics that go beyond adherence to rules, sometimes tackling issues which may be uncomfortable for the profession
  • initiatives that embed an ethical culture within the firm, one in which solicitors and staff feel empowered to raise concerns
  • a willingness to acknowledge mistakes internally and learn from them, and also to learn from the firm’s own data

Excellence in Practice Management

Why did we decide to create this new award for 2021?

We recognise that law firms work are operating in a highly competitive business environment. Over the last year due to the pandemic, there have been many challenges but also opportunities to ensure that client service is at the forefront for any practice now and in the future.

Over the past couple of years, we have had an individual award for ‘Practice Manager of the Year’ but this year, we wanted to create a firm award which could be closely aligned with our Lexcel legal practice quality mark for client care, compliance and practice management.

What is this award designed to showcase?

This award will give firms the opportunity to showcase how they are driving business management and developing innovative strategies to continually improve client care.

Initiatives could include:

  • showing sound financial planning and risk management principles
  • encouraging technological innovation around data and cyber challenges
  • developing innovative learning and development strategies
  • future proofing and working collaboratively to reduce the regulatory burden

Who should enter this award?

Practice management and client care is an important factor for all businesses. This award is open to any levels of firms including sole practitioners who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

What do the judges want to see?

The judges want to see evidence of:

  • innovative solutions to dealing with a specific issue
  • practice excellence in systems and procedures
  • continuous improvement in performance

Any top tips?

When writing your entry, it's best to continually refer to the evidence which the judges are looking for.

This will ensure all points being made are clear and concise. If you're able to support your entry with case studies, facts and figures, this will also make it easier for the judges to see how much impact/development you've made.