The law firm marketing landscape is changing rapidly, and the Legal Marketing Association is doing a good job of keeping up with the new tools and best practices when it comes to measuring the best of the best in our industry. In fact, the LMA has a terrific program called the Your Honor Awards to showcase your law firm’s marketing and PR successes.

The awards program happens annually at both national/international levels and at certain regional levels and covers several categories, such as advertising, recruiting, websites, community relations, branding and collateral materials. It also separates big-budget marketing campaigns from those with shoestring budgets. And, yes, you can enter the same campaigns in both regional and national levels.

Not only does the program recognize creative and strategic legal marketing and PR initiatives, but it also allows us to learn from peers and showcase work challenges and successes. And winning gives you some ROI and accolades to share with management, which should lead to more marketing support, both financially and with management and executive committee buy-in.

I have been lucky enough to win several times, and here at Jaffe we have won back-to-back years (2013 and 2014) for our law firm client work. I also recently moderated an LMA best practices panel discussion in Chicago, where we discussed what judges are looking for and how to better understand the submission process. The following are some of the lessons my experience has taught me about winning a Your Honor Award.

How to Win a Your Honor Award

Get your hands on a good writer: The biggest takeaway from the Chicago panel discussion was to work with your writer or have your legal vendor’s writing team craft your entry into a compelling story. The judges do not have the extensive knowledge of your marketing that you and your team have, and the word count for submissions is limited, so using good storytelling to sell your entry is very important.

Don’t let a small budget deter you: Small budgets with big goals aren’t a bad thing. They can be challenging, but I find the challenge sometimes results in a strategy that is more creative and more impactful than big-budget projects.

Don’t feel limited by the usual marketing tools: We used an Etch-a-Sketch and a View-Master last year to bring attention to an office move, and not only was the creative and strategy planning effective, but the campaign also won in its category.

Give thought to format: With so much more online marketing, LMA did a great job of showcasing the winners on iPads and monitors, including our submission of a series of videos, so attendees could experience them in their native electronic formats. But print is not dead. I was impressed with several printed entries, from annual reports to brochures.

Bring in a vendor to manage the process: At Jaffe we work with our clients to position them for a Your Honor Award win. We share the cost of entry and, in most cases, write the submissions. If specific visual files are required, we will create those, too. We are just as interested in winning as our clients are, as it gives great credibility to the work we create together. And, of course, it also is a great business development tool.

Advice for Next Year

    • Set your goal to create marketing initiatives that use industry best practices, hit the goal and show results.
    • Be strategic and creative! Planning and brainstorming are so important to a winning marketing campaign.
    • Don’t get caught up on budgets. Once you set the goal, you can then find effective, efficient and unique ways to reach it.
    • Partner with your vendors and include them in the strategy, creative and budgeting process.
    • Put a method of measurement in place. This is very important in the YHA submission process.
    • Finally, be prepared to tell your story in a limited, short-form manner so that the judges can truly understand and experience all that you and your team put into the project.

    Good luck! You can review the 2014 YHA winners here. And if you’re interested in learning more about how Jaffe can help position your firm for a Your Honor Award win, email me at