As you begin to pull together evidence for this year’s submissions to the People in Law Awards, what will make your entry stand out? We asked chair of judges Clare Murray what she looks for in a unique submission, and it’s all about telling a story.
With just over five weeks to go until the entry deadline (Friday 4th March), firms are busy pulling together evidence of all they’ve achieved for their workforce over the past year. Across 21 categories, the panel of judges from the worlds of law, HR and communications will soon be considering which firms and individuals should receive one of these coveted awards.
But what will make your award entry stand out? Now in her second year as chair of the judging panel and having been a judge for several years before that, CM Murray founding partner Clare Murray recognises an entry that hits the spot. She sees every single entry, getting the ‘big picture’ on where people trends in the legal sector are heading and what makes something unique.
The awards have been virtual for the past two years due to the pandemic, but return to the real-life venue of Tobacco Dock in 2022. Seeing what firms had achieved in response to coronavirus was moving in one respect, adds Murray, but threw up challenges for judges in differentiating which firms went above and beyond for their staff. “All of the efforts firms were making were heartening. But this made it hard to find firms that were doing something distinctive to support their staff,” she says.
New awards have emerged this year that recognise the evolution of the sector including Best Global HR Initiative and Best People Leader. “The legal sector is so international and there are so many cross-border projects. You could be looking at cultural audits or a global benefits programme and trying to implement that locally,” she adds. Entries for individual awards such as Best People Leader or Rising Star must have a quality that really shines through, explains Murray: “The starting point is always, are they just doing their job? We need to see something where they’ve gone above and beyond, engaged strategically, been creative or worked at different levels across the firm.”
Below, she sets out eight key principles firms must think about in crafting their People in Law Awards entries. Good luck!
- Like any good story, take the judges on a journey of discovery with your particular initiative. Show us the beginning, middle and end of the story, and the challenge being addressed, the highs and lows faced along the way, and the win achieved at the end through HR’s tenacity and strategic focus.
- Show us how the initiative fits within the wider strategic priorities of the firm, and the buy-in HR secured at the senior and at other levels of the business. The ones that fail are the ones that aren’t strategic.
- Show us tangible evidence of the success of the project – we cannot overstate how helpful it is to have relevant and comprehensible data, external validation, internal feedback or any other meaningful evidence of success.
- For awards recognising individual achievement, you need to tell us something that is more than just a normal part of the day job – give us evidence of someone who really did something distinctive and with a real strategic impact for the business.
- Keep your submission brief, punchy and engaging, so the judges can understand right up front the initiative, the strategic imperative for it and the success achieved by it.
- Avoid extensive attachments – if you need to include one, try to limit it to one relevant PowerPoint or short punchy video that encapsulates the issue being addressed, the journey and the strategic impact.
- Try to write it yourself within HR, rather than delegating the submission to your marketing team, as otherwise it can end up more ‘soap than substance’. You know the project, you have driven it to success, and you can tell us about it most effectively. (This is your win, not theirs!)
- Finally, don’t let your submission be boring… Think about what you’d like to see and what would capture your imagination if you were a judge.