We’ve seen the measure of excellence

This is the 20th year of The Lawyer Awards, and the 2014 shortlist is brimming with excellence.

The Lawyer Awards, in association with Travelers, is the biggest single night in the legal calendar for two very good reason: quality and inclusivity. Any given year, the winners could include magic circle partners, global law firms, local authority legal teams, general counsel from PLCs or in-house lawyers from start-ups, top silks or the tiniest of boutique practices.

Catrin Griffiths
Catrin Griffiths

The other thing that makes The Lawyer Awards special is the judging team. They are all senior lawyers who have a wide range of experience and background. They’re mostly in-house lawyers but we also have a sprinkling of barristers (although the latter don’t get to judge the bar or chambers awards, as we think it’s rather too small a world). We assign our judges specialist categories that broadly correspond to their expertise – this particularly applies to the transactional awards. The more general categories get shared out between them all, so each judge gets about six or seven each to assess. The big categories such as Law Firm of the Year are seen by everyone.

As we get more than 400 entries a year, the first process is for the editorial team to sift them into long lists for the judges. Then the judges do the real whittling down over a couple of days and vats of coffee.

I’ve been chairing the judging for several years now, and there are some recurring themes. The biggest bugbear of the judges is the overlong submission. When you have to study 60-odd entries each – and believe me when I say that our judges take this process extremely seriously and read every word – then pages and pages of puff don’t go down well. Equally unpopular is the over-technical submission riddled with acronyms; unfortunately, many regulatory and financial entries are serial offenders. A couple of submissions played fast and loose with the actualité, and were caught out. (Cue much derision in the judging room.)

As always, the boutique firm and in-house categories throw up some fantastic candidates that have not necessarily been on the legal market radar – as did our new ABS category.

In short, it’s a gruelling but always fascinating process, and we’re inordinately grateful to our judges for taking part. Over the coming weeks we’ll be interviewing some of those shortlisted, so do check out www.thelawyer.com regularly to find out more. Roll on 25 June.

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