The Nigerian
Legal Awards (NLA) is not based on sentiments, not on how much you pay,
relationship with ESQ, size of the firm nor volume of the transactions that you
do. It is based on specifics as contained in your submission. 

You are
called to explain in short words what it is that you have achieved for your
client and how this has impacted or is likely to impact on their business.
Since words are the most important tools of advocacy and lawyers are expected
to be men of words, the Award judges are looking forward to seeing in your own
words how legal service that you deliver is in tandem with commercial

Our judges
are usually very busy and have limited time to devout to reading long epistles
but trust me, they do study the entries carefully, often burning through the
midnight oil in the process as they juggle with their busy schedules.

Given that
well over half of the Nigerian Legal Awards judges are heads of the African
Practice Group of the major International Law Firms or CEOs of major companies
with years of interaction with Nigerian Lawyers, while leading teams or
companies, this presents law firms with the opportunity to tell a select group
of partners or prospective clients how well they are doing. Conversely, if they
submit ill-thought out entries they may end up damaging a valued relationship.

This is a
very important business

legal awards is not for joke. It is indeed a very serious business. If you’re
not going to take the process of entering awards seriously, then leave them
well alone. Boilerplate entries obviously modeled on directory submissions
where the only variation is the name of the awards entered – and sometimes even
that detail is overlooked – will simply reduce the value of your nomination.

Choose the categories you enter carefully:

some categories attract more entries than others. This should be expected as
some areas of the economy are usually more active than the others. In the past,
the Oil and Gas Team Award was the most popular category attracting higher
number of entries. Other popular practice area categories were Banking, Finance
or Restructuring Team of the Year and Dispute Resolution Team of the Year and
the Capital Market Team of the Year.

is obviously a good thing and the steady rise in the number of entries for the
Nigerian Legal Awards has no doubt helped raise the standard of the shortlisted
entries, a phenomenon several judges remarked upon last year. That doesn’t mean
you shouldn’t enter the most hard-fought categories, just that you need to
enter the competition with your eyes open, aware that you will need to have an
exceptional entry to succeed. Conversely, it will surely pay off to focus on
some of the less popular categories to see whether they clearly show your
leadership strength within the league.

“All over
the world, there are similar respectable ceremonies that grant prizes but this
offer another flavour as it is specifically for Nigerian lawyers and because
most Nigerian firms are playing at home, in front of their public, their
audience, their clients, their colleagues, their neighbours, their bosses, the
acknowledgement is even greater. As we stick very closely to the new trends in
the market, we are able to see before anyone else and spot the new “kids on the
block”, see how the “old guys” are doing in their traditional areas of practice
or in new areas in which they are developing and see what innovations the new
players are bringing to the game as well as the influence of the international
players in the market.” Lere Fashola stated.

Criteria are

Study the
criteria and make sure the entry addresses all the points. All evaluations and
nominations are done online. Judges will be given a score sheet that lists the
criteria and invites them to mark each entry against them. Each Criterion has a
maximum score of 10 points. We therefore expect that each nomination will
adequately address all the criteria fully. The score that you get for one
criterion may not count for the other. so you have to do justice to all and in
short words.

There will
also be a day roundtable for judges where we invite the judges to meet and
debate who should win the Law Firm of the Year Award. The final decision on the
winner of the award will be decided at the one day judges’ conference where
judges will meet to justify their votes.

nominees will be informed before the award ceremony. The final decision on the
award winners will be made by the judges when they meet, and their decision
will be final. 

Dare to be

submission must be precise and address the issues. It should be easy to read
and understood and should state specifically what is significant about what you
have done. Be different and see this as an opportunity to market to a new or
prospective client who may end up needing your services.

Remember its
about the clients

All that the
judges are looking for is how your service is helping the businesses to grow.
It is expected that the solutions that you offer must be in tandem with
commercial realities. Show to the judges what it was that you were called to
help the client solve and how this is impacting or likely to impact on their

Write in
plain English and avoid jargon

No law firm
or legal department can succeed without being able to communicate effectively
and this should be reflected in the quality of the submission itself. Lay out
can also help. For example, sub-headings that speak to the criteria will
reinforce the message that the entry has been well-structured. It is not part
of the entry criteria for entries to be well designed. But submissions from law
firms that have not been sent to a design department are becoming increasingly

Does your firm need to be big before you can win?

The Nigerian
Legal Awards is not based on the size of your firm nor the volume of the
transactions that you do. The past award has seen a firm win the award on the
strength of the very first deal they did under a specific category. All the
judges are concerned with is whether the deal is novel, does it set new
standards, the turnaround time, positive benefits to the clients business, how
professional you were in delivering this service