Receiving an Award Benefits You and Your Firm
The State Bar of Michigan and local bar associations across the state present awards to outstanding lawyers and judges. For example, the State Bar presents the Roberts P. Hudson Award to lawyers for their outstanding and unique service to, and on behalf of, the Bar, the legal profession, and the public, and the Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award which recognizes extraordinary governmental service by an SBM member.
The Ingham County Bar Association, to which I belong, has two award events. At its annual dinner in November, it presents awards to members who have distinguished themselves by manifesting civility, or to those who have shown a strong commitment to their community. There is also an Annual Barristers Night in the spring where the "Top Five Under 35" are recognized.
Awards presented by reputable legal organizations to members of your firm confer recognition on the firm and position your lawyers as leaders in the law. Awards allow clients to favorably view the firm and could bring in more referrals. The downside to the award submission process is that it takes time to enter—time you may not have.
Benefits of award submissions
- Increased name recognition and reputation—whether you win or not, having your name on the list of nominees builds your credibility in the legal community.
- Marketing—if you win, send out a press release and photo to papers and newsletters to generate free publicity. Add the announcement to your website, your member profile, and social media.
- Retain and gain employees—awards boost morale and can attract future talent.
- Gain new clients—the free publicity can generate new business.
But there's no time
While it's true entering award competitions takes time away from legal business, the process is easier if you have a submission plan. Start by researching awards criteria.
- Make a list of due dates and submission information.
- Since most bar association awards are annual, keep a calendar of due dates and set reminders as those dates approach.
- During the year, keep a folder of projects appropriate to include as support for your nominee.
When you win, send out press releases to local media, announce it on your website, include it in your firm newsletter, put it in your profile in the SBM Member Directory, post it on social media, and display the award prominently in your office for staff and visitors to see. Though entering an award competition may be time consuming, the benefits to the lawyer and firm are well worth the effort.
Roberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.
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