This week sees the launch of The Lawyer Awards, the third-year running for this major event in the legal calender. When the awards were started three-years ago, it was difficult to envisage that they would catch the imagination of the profession to the extent that they have.
Last year's entries surpassed all expectations and we are expecting a record number this year. But why should lawyers want to put themselves forward? First, an award concentrates the mind of practices on those aspects of their work they feel sufficiently proud of to enter. Second, it is good motivation for staff to see that they have been entered or are short-listed for awards.
It is not simply an excuse for the profession to pat itself on the back. Rather, it is recognition that lawyers have a lot to be proud of; that, while they do not generate a warm glow in all quarters, there is still much good work to be celebrated.
It is, therefore, appropriate that the first award launched this year should be for excellence in the field of client care - an area which has profound implications for the legal profession if not handled properly. The reputation of the profession hangs to a great extent on this aspect of practice. Different firms, chambers and legal departments will no doubt have various client care programmes in operation, meaning competition in this category is likely to be particularly fierce. Other important awards include our Public Sector Award, covering a much neglected area of work, particularly in these difficult times for public sector lawyers. We hope to see many entries from local authorities up and down the country.
In the coming months, we will provide information on the other 20 awards - all legal practitioners will find at least one relevant to them. Our distinguished panel of judges come from all areas of the profession and from outside organisations.