The 2018 LMA Your Honor Awards submissions portal is open now through Wednesday, December 13, at noon CT. As you consider submitting to one of the program’s 16 categories, read on for part two of our series on past winners. This feature highlights 2017 first-place Your Honor Awards winner Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC from the perspective of judge Lindsay Griffiths (Director of Global Relationship Management, International Lawyers Network).
The submission that has really stuck with me over the past year was “LP’s CSR Surprise,” the first place winner within the Communications: Messaging Strategy category. The entry centered around the firm’s holiday card and, rather than your expected paper (or even e-card), the firm sent out hundreds of locked boxes to clients, friends and colleagues. Each with a note instructing them to watch a short video in order to get the code to unlock the box. The video showcased their CSR partner, Chicago’s Community Kitchen (CCK), which is run by the Greater Chicago Food Depository and helps unemployed and underemployed people find work in the food-service industry through a 14-week training program that includes two weeks of on-the-job training. Throughout the video, viewers are taken on a journey with the program participants, who finish by making the chocolate and caramel bars that turn out to be the contents of the locked box. The code (113) turned out to be the number of program graduates to date.
As judges, we were really floored for a few reasons. First, the firm itself was really a subtle footnote throughout the piece. Though its name was overlaid in the bottom corner of the video and Levenfeld’s managing partner is the person offering the closing message, the focus truly was the charity, which gave recipients a great feeling about the program – and, by extension, the firm itself. For all of us, we felt that this was evidence of marketing that illustrated a firm’s actual values, rather than paying lip service. Second, the results were astounding. In addition to obviously getting the attention of everyone who received a box, the firm got offers of assistance for CCK, including donations. One of Levenfeld’s clients even offered to serve as a venue for future CCK on-the-job training. The judges – myself included – agreed that more than any other piece of collateral, this was something that a client would remember, would be encouraged to send additional work to the firm to support projects like this, and would give them the confidence that this is the type of partner that they want to have. Ultimately, it was a unique way to showcase a firm’s values in a tangible way.
The Your Honor Awards are a competitive process with a lot of smart, talented people and firms entering. To stand out, it starts with an excellent project. LMA prides itself on being the leader in legal marketing, and when the judges get together to review projects, that differentiator is top-of-mind. One of the greatest questions and challenges is, “Does this project really reflect true leadership in the legal industry?” Also important is to look at the full scope of the project. There are some projects that are brilliant, but the substance behind them isn’t well-articulated. Judges like to see the research and data, including strongly identified goals and specific results. Including these will show that your project is well-defined. When it comes down to judging two strong candidates against each other, the question of industry leadership comes into play. Judges have to weigh more heavily projects that put together a comprehensive entry over those that seemed to “get lucky.” Lastly, take care with the entry itself. It’s challenging to get entries in on time while also ensuring that you have included succinct detail about a project you’re passionate about (especially when, in some cases, you’re revisiting details that you’ve lived with for years). It’s important to remember that, to the judges, everything you are providing is entirely new information. Answering each of the points as fully and completely as possible will always make the judges’ jobs much easier when it comes to weighing your submission against others. To make the judges care as much as you do, show them that passion in your entry.
Think you have a comparable project that deserves Your Honor Awards recognition? Submit now through Wednesday, December 13, at noon CT.
Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Director of Global Relationship Management. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths works with the Network’s Executive Director to identify and implement marketing opportunities both internally and externally and develop new approaches to business development needs.