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Awards in the legal sector – what are they even for?

Awards in the legal sector – what are they even for?



I have an admission to make: when researching firms online, I often find it difficult to work out which areas of law they are actually strongest in. The problem is that they are all eager to persuade you that they are strong in every area, leaving those of us just starting out on our vacation scheme application journeys somewhat confused.

Of course, the obvious answer is to go to a careers fair, campus event or open day and just ask. However, when this is not possible, I often find it helpful to look at which of their teams have won awards, especially for particular cases. This got me thinking about who gives out such awards, how they make their decisions, and on what basis.

This post summarises some of the most talked about awards in the legal profession in the hopes that next time a law firm tries to convince you of their brilliance by reeling off their prizes, you won’t find yourself so confused.

Law Society Excellence Awards

The Law Society Excellence Awards have been running for the past 12 years. People are invited to nominate themselves, their firms or each other for awards, and the submissions are then assessed by a panel of judges. Although many of the awards are often won by larger firms, the Law Society states that it is interested in recognising lawyers who have achieved success without the backing of a large corporate. For example, it recently created a new Access to Justice Award, for which groups ranging from period poverty charities Hausfeld, Free Periods and The Red Box Project to Derbyshire Legal Advice Centre have been shortlisted.

LegalWeek British Legal Awards

The LegalWeek British Legal Awards pride themselves on the independence of their judging panel. Their focus is on business law and, compared with the Law Society Excellence Awards, they seem to be a little more dominated by the largest firms. However, in many respects, the two have fairly similar nomination and judging processes.

Legal 500 Awards

The Legal 500 Awards are a little different in that they do not accept nominations. Instead, the Legal 500 contacts 250,000 in-house lawyers throughout the year and conducts its own research to determine the award winners. It also shortlists both in-house teams and firms in the same categories.

Law360 Practice Group of the Year Awards

The Law360 Practice Group of the Year Awards are useful for anyone looking to find out about a firm’s most notable cases because they reward practice groups for work on specific, often high-profile, cases.