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Give Yourself a Pat on the Back — and an Award

By Theda C. Snyder

If you’ve ever read the names on a list of lawyer awards and thought, “I am as good, or better!” this article is for you.

lawyer awards

Perhaps you read about other lawyers receiving awards and accolades and think, “Well, I am as good as — or better than — that lawyer. Why did the award go to them?” Sometimes the answer is: Because they went after it.

If you are camped out in your office waiting for someone to contact you with praise, it’s time to wake up.

Tips for Reaping the Rewards of Lawyer Awards

Many lawyer and industry organizations are on the lookout for noteworthy people to invite as speakers, join their exclusive college and receive awards. They publish their criteria in their publications and on their websites.

If you fit the description, swing into action sooner rather than later. It can take a while to put together all the parts.

Seek out colleagues who may be willing to nominate you.

This might be other members of your firm. Sometimes, though, the recommendations must come from multiple people and sometimes they must be from outside your firm.

People are busy. They forget. Face it, you are not their priority. You don’t want to be a nag, but it might take several reminders. One way to get the ball rolling is to offer to ghost-write the nomination.

Be subtle. “I know you’re busy. I can put together a draft for you that you can use as a starting point — or not, whatever you like.” Chances are, assuming they remember at all, your helpful friend will simply send out what you wrote.

But what if they don’t remember?

Nominate yourself.

The most direct way to ensure your nomination gets submitted in complete and timely fashion is to do it yourself. For many awards, self-nomination is fine — even welcome.

I nominated myself for an award. I didn’t win, but reaped many benefits nonetheless. As a nominee, I received complimentary registration for the conference where the award would be conferred. My name tag had a nominee ribbon attached, which was a great conversation starter at networking events. I attended education sessions, met a lot of people, and generally had a great time. Back at the office, I followed up with the people I met.

Maybe you think you don’t have enough experience for an award. While writing this post, I received an email requesting the nomination of any service provider in the commercial insurance sector, including lawyers, for a “Break Out Award.” The prime criterion was to have less than 15 years of industry experience.

Consider buying your way in.

How big a deal is this honor? If you see it as a major step up in your ability to attract high-value cases, you or your firm might consider making a sizable donation to the organization. While no organization admits to conferring an award as a quid pro quo, a donation certainly puts you on their radar. That same email seeking nominations also was looking for sponsors.

I Can’t Do That!

You may feel that nominating yourself is inappropriate. Experts say as many as 75% of all lawyers suffer imposter syndrome.

You can overcome imposter syndrome with some concentrated introspection. Look where you are and how you got here. You’re smart. You ably serve your clients. They and your colleagues express their appreciation for your expertise. You participate in the work of various organizations where your input is important.

Adopt “yes, I can” as your motto, and go after that well-deserved award.

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Teddy Snyder Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workers’ compensation and insurance coverage cases, including COVID-19 related coverage disputes, in person or by video. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 4th Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at and on Twitter @SnyderMediation.

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