With only two weeks to go before entries close for the National Paralegal Awards, we wanted to ask our judges:
- Why do you think these awards are so important?
- What would you say to the people who are considering entering these awards?
- What will you be looking for in the entries?
Esperanza FuentesOmbudsman Manager at Financial Ombudsman Service
- These awards provide recognition of the great work paralegals do and encouragement to new paralegals.
- I would encourage all paralegals to consider entering for these awards.
- I will be looking for commitment to being a paralegal, professionalism , a desire to learn and improve knowledge and expertise , enthusiasm for the law and helping clients as well as encouraging others who may want to join the legal profession as paralegals - a good role model.
DAVID OPIEManaging Director, Today's Media
Awards are an incredibly important part of recognising excellence and endeavour in industry. Alongside being recognized by your peers, awards serve to increase your profile, reinforce your reputation and can be an effective part of your overall marketing strategy in making both your professional and local communities aware of what sets you apart from your competitors.
Win or lose, in the lead up to the event, during the event and afterwards, your name will be splashed around, with industry experts, clients and potential clients becoming aware of you delivering a welcome boost to your brand.
There are a couple of keys things to consider when looking at entering. 1) if it’s your first time, don’t expect to win, or necessarily be shortlisted. It can take time to fully understand what the judges are looking for in an entry and it’s not always an overnight success.
Writing an awards application is a meticulous. It takes time and no little skill to write a submission which grabs judges’ attention (remember, they read A LOT of submissions, what sets yours apart!?). Make sure you read the criteria carefully and answer the question.
Choose your category(s) carefully. Which one do you feel gives you the best chance of winning. What have you done that makes your business stand out against the criteria. Does the criteria fit in with an overall business strategy to become better known/recognized as an industry expert in? For example, if you’re building messaging around staff welfare, is there a category which enables you to show off the work you’re doing?
And finally, go along to the awards themselves, even if you’re not shortlisted. They are a fantastic networking opportunity and you get to meet like-minded businesses and individuals… and you might learn a thing or two about your submission for next year!
It’s a little bit like going back to school. You MUST answer the question. Sometimes the judges are not subject matter experts and won’t necessarily understand some of the nuances of your submission. You must make it clear how and why your submission fulfils the category criteria.
Don’t make sweeping statements, back your points up with facts and evidence. And try to make the writing style and content of the submission interesting… don’t forget the judges will be reading a lot of submissions and you need to ensure that yours is memorable. Don’t be afraid to expand your vocabulary and use attention grabbing words and phrases.
STEPHEN GOWLANDChair of the Police Misconduct Tribunal and Non-Executive Board Member of the Legal Services Board
Paralegals, in all their forms, are the backbone of the industry, often working in the shadows and these awards shine a much-needed light on the vital role they play in the delivery of Legal Services in the marketplace. This is something I am passionate about having started my career as a paralegal via an apprenticeship scheme.
Do it now! Entering the awards will allow you to reflect upon the great work you have done to date.
Winning or being highly commended will give you fantastic kudos and, as I know from personal experience, it will be a great way of promoting you and your business to potential and existing clients. So many businesses say they offer a great service, but it is much more powerful to be able to say you offer award winning great service!
The judges are looking for cogent high quality evidence of what you have done. Evidence of work done backed up by praise received from clients will be a particularly strong entry.
Make sure you set the scene for the work you have done and really explain what made that piece of work particularly difficult. Detail any challenges, personal and case related that you had to overcome and finally make the entry easy to follow and understand.
Stephen wardManaging Director, Clerksroom
- The legal marketplace is changing, and paralegals are helping to reshape the sector. Paralegals from all legal disciplines give options to firms and clients alike with their qualifications and experience and it is important that their contributions and expertise are recognised and celebrated
Being shortlisted for an award, let alone winning one, is a powerful endorsement of your achievements. It is a great way to showcase what you have to offer and will help build trust with your clients and other professionals. The National Paralegal Awards gives you a huge platform to shine a light on your talent, so have the courage of your convictions and enter.
Commitment, excellence, adaptability, innovation and client service - these are all key characteristics I will be looking for, on top of a solid legal foundation. At Clerksroom we have won quite a few awards of our own and understand that the secret of a great awards entry is to tell a story that demonstrates how you have delivered beyond expectations, backed up with hard evidence.
hilary UnderwoodFamily Lawyer & Parental Alienation Specialist.
Nick HarrisonPartner in the Commercial and TMT department at Dentons
The legal market is pretty good at celebrating success but it is regularly focused in the same areas and at the same level. It is fantastic that these awards celebrate the incredible work of paralegals, the foundation of the industry. It is such a privilege to be involved this year and play a part in shining a light on the great work so many fantastic paralegals deliver across the UK.
It's a fantastic opportunity to showcase your achievements and all you do. Be proud of all you've accomplished and don't be afraid of throwing your hat in the ring and submitting an entry for consideration. There's nothing to lose and so much to gain!
Going above and beyond the day-to-day expectations. The National Paralegal Awards recognise the absolute best paralegals in the UK in each field. I want entrants who aren't afraid of their accomplishments and are proud of their significant achievements over the last twelve months. Those who can do so and really evidence their successes will be the entrants who stand-out from the crowd.
With entries now closed for this years’ National Paralegal Awards, we asked our judges to tell us:
- Why did you decide to judge these awards?
- What are you hoping to see in the entries?
- What do you believe paralegals will be gaining by entering?
James O’ConnellPartner, Commercial Department, Mayo Wynne Baxter
- I founded the Institute some 20 years ago and remain convinced of the importance of paralegals and their contribution to the legal sector.
Clients judge paralegals no differently from other legal advisers. They expect paralegals to deliver results competently, on time, on budget and with great client service. It is only appropriate, therefore, that outstanding paralegals be recognised and applauded.
Regardless of the type of work done, a commitment to professionalism and great client service.
Recognition and encouragement to be the best legal advisers they can.
Tim KiddChief Executive of The Institute of Legal Finance & Management
Barbara Hamilton-BruceBusiness Manager, Simmons & Simmons Solutions Limited
- Paralegals play an invaluable role in the delivery of legal services up and down this country and across all disciplines. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the awards and play a small part in celebrating success.
- I’m really looking forward to seeing the diversity of insight and experience that paralegals bring to their roles and the outcomes that they’re driving for clients and their businesses. We know that paralegals make a strong contribution day in, day out but the process of applying for an award gives you the opportunity to really think about and share the value you bring. It’s a great opportunity to profile raise and enjoy the chance to celebrate your career. Apply now!
Sally Penni MBEBarrister at LawKenworthy's Chambers
- These awards provide recognition of the great work paralegals as unsung heros and the bedrock of any law firm or legal entity. They also provide encouragement to new paralegals highlighting the diversity of paralegals there are.
I would encourage all paralegals to consider entering for these awards as an opportunity to show off their actual work both on the law and outside to make a difference and make an impact.
I will be looking for Evidence of their actual work. Written by someone with knowledge of their work not a copy and paste by the markwtting department Evidence of clear commitment to being a paralegal, professionalism , a desire to learn and improve knowledge and expertise and continuing professional development. A love of law and helping clients as well as evidence of being a good role model encouraging others who may want to join the legal profession as paralegals.
Neil NewmanCommercial Director at The Chartered Governance Institute
CARMEN NADOLUHead of Memberships
The Institute of Paralegals
- I decided to judge these awards because I always learn and get inspiration from the innovation, solutions, ideas and work ethnics from the entrants Being a judge also gives me exposure and networking opportunities that aren’t available everyday.
In the entries allocated to me for judging, I first look for whether they are actually answering the questions and whether they are actually following the instructions. I am also hoping to come across some standout answers that are backed up with facts, and deserve recognition as truly remarkable and for that wow factor that differentiates an entry from another.
I cannot emphasize enough how beneficial entering these awards would be for paralegals!
Entering these awards, is a valuable experience for individuals, as they can reflect on their achievements and for businesses to audit their achievements against their goals.
Entering awards also provide a great marketing opportunity, getting recognised for achievements and enhance careers.
Awards increase exposure, and enables paralegals to share what they are doing with their peers.
If they become a finalist, they will most likely receive a certain amount of highly valuable publicity before the event, through print, email and social media as well as on the night of the awards ceremony. The Gala final is also great for networking and making new connections.
Judging has now taken place, without giving too much away, we asked our judges:
- What impressed you the most about this year’s entries?
- What were you most surprised about?
- What would you say to the entrants overall?
Pippa MarlerDiversity and Inclusion Lead
rachel tombsFounder/Owner, Orion Legal Marketing
NEIL ROBERTSHead of Legal Operations, Which? Legal
Hugh Anderson McKnightDirector of Learning and Business Development at CLT Scotland
- Each submission has sought to highlight why personal expertise and achievements are worthy of national recognition. However, what was most impressive about this year’s submissions were the focus on client care and recognising the need for building good relationships with colleagues in order to be a successful paralegal.
While the awards were open to anyone working within the paralegal sector, the breadth of work undertaken by paralegals was most surprising. The examples presented in each submission were often niche, complex and challenging. It was evident from all submissions that the role undertaken by paralegals is considered invaluable to the wider legal sector. It was also impressive to read the esteem in which the individual paralegals are held by both clients and colleagues.
Undoubtedly each submission is worthy of recognition and each entrant should be congratulated for the work they have undertaken in order to reach the final of the National Paralegal Awards. The focus on service to the wider community and the impact that was evidenced in the submissions were particular highlights. These attributes are highly sought after within the profession both by clients and employers.
Malvika JaganmohanBARRISTER, ST IVES CHAMBERS
- Being a lawyer isn't a 9-5. Our clients can be demanding and the job can take up a big chunk of our lives. This is why I was particularly impressed by the breadth of work being done by entrants both inside and outside the office beyond their day-to-day caseload: the additional training, volunteering, charity work, projects, roles of responsibility, peer support, CPD, and so on. The entries showed how many brilliant paralegals are going above and beyond to get the best results for their clients and to use their skills to give back to the community.
- How difficult it would be to choose a winner! I expected there to be a clear winner in all the categories I was judging but it was terribly difficult to choose between so many brilliant entrants. I went back and forth over the entries multiple times, agonising over the personal statements and supporting evidence. I have to say: it's a great problem to have.
- It really isn't an overstatement to say that the quality of the entrants was exceptional. Paralegals are often the quiet backbone of the profession, not expecting or receiving praise for their commitment to their clients and their impressive work ethic. I want to thank the entrants for what they are doing to keep the wheels of justice turning during a difficult time where the pressures on all of us are immense. Your entries are a testament to the excellence of the profession. Your clients are lucky to have you.
Katrina Robinson MBEAssociate, Housing Management
Capsticks Solicitors LLP
What really shone through this year was the absolute dedication of the paralegals to their work, their employers and, most importantly, to their clients. It was clear from many, indeed if not all, that client care is incredibly important to them and from which they derive most of their job satisfaction. I was also enormously impressed with the sheer determination and desire to succeed from the individual entrants who often did so from non-traditional routes into the law. As a working class woman myself, I know first-hand the amount of grit that is needed to establish yourself in the legal profession and the PPR entries have shone a marvelous light on their achievements.
The passion! It came through unequivocally. These entries weren’t about winning an award, they were about pride and success and the desire to showcase what they have done and rightly so!
Everyone who entered should be very proud of themselves. Your achievements are immeasurable and you are fantastic advocates for the paralegal profession whilst advancing in your own careers and supporting other paralegals on the way. Our profession would be significantly poorer without the great work that you all do.