Get Validated: How Awards and Recognitions Give You a Marketing Edge

It’s always fun and gratifying to win an award that recognizes your firm. Earning professional laurels validates the quality of your firm’s work, and the excellence of the service you provide.

The musical comedian Tom Lehrer once joked: “What good are laurels if you can’t rest on them?” Needless to say, winning awards doesn’t mean you should kick back. But those laurels can make marketing your firm and its services a little easier. You don’t need to talk up how strong your practice is. You can point to the recognitions you’ve received and say: This is what respected people in the profession are saying about us. Other people.

To marketing professionals, awards and recognitions are third-party validations. Those marketing experts will also tell you that third-party validations can be gold. For one thing, they can raise your profile among your fellow attorneys. If your practice thrives in part due to referrals from your professional colleagues, third-party recognitions can help boost the number of those referrals.

Whatever the nature of your practice, a third-party validation offers an unparalleled opportunity to differentiate your firm in a competitive legal marketplace. Awards and recognitions help you make a stronger case to legal consumers looking for advice and representation.

But that case doesn’t make itself. Here are some ways you can make the most of third-party validations:

1. Spread the Word

Use your website, blog posts, social networks, and online and offline advertising to note your latest recognition. If you have earned a listing in Super Lawyers, make sure you link to your listing (and that all of your online contact information is accurate).

You might be the type of attorney who doesn’t like to promote his or her awards. You want your work to speak for itself. But your reputation, however strong, isn’t familiar to most legal consumers. You need to let them know. Third-party validations are a way to build marketplace recognition without having to “sell yourself.”

2. Don’t Brag

It’s hard to be humble when your office wall is aglow with plaques and certificates. (And indeed, you should hang up those awards so that visitors can see them.) But the rationale for spotlighting your recognitions isn’t to puff yourself up. The advantage of third-party validations is that they are valuable to legal consumers.

In any case, don’t overplay the awards. Note them, by all means. Incorporate them into your advertising and marketing where appropriate. But it’s not about you. Instead, you want to use them to prove to current and potential clients that you have the expertise they’re looking for.

3. Incorporate Them Into Your Overall Business-Building

If a digital plan feels like too much work to tackle on your own, look into getting help from an outside agency that specializes in legal marketing. An external marketing agency won’t replace you. But it can offer you marketing strategies that address your firm’s needs. And that can free you up to focus on other marketing initiatives, such as events and media coverage.

Needless to say, you should vet the agencies carefully. A good agency won’t make pie-in-the-sky promises nor try to sell itself with vague highfalutin jargon. Instead, it will seek to be a true partner, one that – like you – is interested in measurable goals and long-term results.

This is about more than marketing. This is about how you work with potential clients. A third-party validation provides you the opportunity to promote your firm’s values. And one of those values is trust.

According to the Thomson Reuters’ 2018 Consumer Legal Needs Survey, 84 percent of legal consumers rate their level of trust in a third-party attorney rating service as a three, four, or five. A third-party validation also can show that your firm is worthy of a client’s trust. They tell clients that you deliver on what you promise.

True, many awards and recognitions require that your firm apply for or nominate itself in order to be recognized. An example is Thomson Reuters’ Lead Counsel rating. Earning this recognition can help demonstrate why your firm should be legal consumers’ first choice – their lead counsel.

Yes, the Lead Counsel recognition is free. But it isn’t given just by asking. It requires you to undergo a thorough vetting through peer recommendations and the Lead Counsel Review Board to determine whether your firm has the experience and ethics worthy of the designation.

In other words, they don’t just give these awards away. They’re the fruits of your hard work – the kind of skilled work your firm could perform for a potential client.

So yes, savor the satisfaction of an award or other third-party recognition. You’ve earned it. But no, don’t rest on your laurels — and don’t let those laurels rest. Put them to work attracting new business.

And don’t forget about Lead Counsel. Take our quick assessment to find out if you qualify.

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