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Authenticity, humility are cornerstones of strong award submissions

A past judge at the Women in Law Awards has detailed how award entrants could bolster the quality of their submissions to impress the judging panel.

user iconMalavika Santhebennur 07 September 2022 Big Law
Authenticity, humility are cornerstones of strong award submissions
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Lawyers Weekly is excited to once again host the 2022 Women in Law Awards black-tie gala ceremony on Thursday, 24 November 2022, at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne to celebrate the tireless efforts, dedication, successes, and achievements of women in the legal profession.

Lawyers Weekly is urging women in the legal profession to submit an entry or nominate a worthy colleague across 31 individual and group categories that cover academics, barristers, executives, general counsel, in-house lawyers, law students, mentors, partners, and wellness advocates by 9 September 2022.

At the end of the ceremony, one individual winner will be chosen as the recipient of the 2022 Women in Law Excellence Award.


Claire Bibby is the co-founder and director of global lawyer coaching outfit Coaching Advocates and was one of the judges at the 2021 Women in Law Awards. She was also the recipient of the Women in Law Awards Excellence Award in 2016 and has won and been a finalist at the awards numerous times.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly ahead of this year’s awards, Ms Bibby asserted that the key to an effective submission is for the entrant to speak with an authentic voice and remain humble.

“I would look for someone who has taken a personal approach to their submissions. What I mean by this is the award entrant will ideally speak to the judges from their heart and will be guided by their values and beliefs,” Ms Bibby advised.

“Believe it or not, it can be really obvious to the judges if someone has had their head of marketing or secretary draft their application. We can see through that.

“I like reading people’s personal stories. I look for opportunities where someone can tell me about a lightbulb moment they’ve had, which makes me sit up and take notice, or think that I wouldn’t have thought to have done something that way.”

While award entrants are welcome to seek assistance from others to compile their submissions, Ms Bibby cautioned against using buzzwords or “marketing spiel”.

“I’m not saying getting assistance from someone else is a bad thing. It actually might be a smart thing,” she said.

“But make sure the application that you submit still resonates with you and aligns with how you would like to be described and that it describes you accurately.”

Being honest about their achievements is crucial for applicants, with Ms Bibby recounting that she once read a submission that quoted one of her deals and “overinflated” the award entrant’s role in that deal.

“They didn’t know I was one of the judges. Do be careful because our industry is small. If you’re going to use somebody else who might be inclined to use puffery or over-inflate your story, there’s a good chance that you’ll get caught,” she warned.

Innovators, changemakers deserve recognition

Ms Bibby also encouraged applicants to demonstrate that they have changed the way in which the legal profession operates and how they are using a more sustainable approach to practising law, while improving outcomes for clients, their staff, and the firm.

“I want to see how people are making a difference to our industry by being conscious about broader environmental, social, and governance implications,” she said.

“I like to see that sort of impact because to me that’s someone who is a changemaker, an innovator, and adopting entrepreneurial thinking. They deserve to be held up by our industry. People’s behaviour is so much more important to me than how much money they have made.”

Alongside this, Ms Bibby said she would favour someone who includes supporting documents.

“I’m very likely going to prefer someone who has put in the time and effort to include attachments because it demonstrates that they’ve read the brief, to use a legal term,” she said.

In particular, references and testimonials from clients would add weight to a submission, as would a video where the applicant is detailing their achievements in an authentic and humble manner.

In addition, entrants could include media articles or even a social media post that has garnered a significant number of responses from their audience.

“That’s somebody who is showing that they’re thinking outside the box,” Ms Bibby said.

Answer the question

Ms Bibby concluded by offering “simple” and “basic” tips to award entrants seeking to distinguish themselves at this year’s Women in Law Awards.

“I know it sounds obvious but sometimes the responses in a submission do not answer the question,” she pointed out.

“The applicant needs to answer the question and use the word count to their advantage. And do it in a way that makes them stand out from the crowd.

“Never be beige.”

The Women in Law Awards program is the benchmark for excellence, recognising the outstanding women influencing the Australian legal profession. It is the pinnacle event for recognising female talent in the Australian legal industry and presents an opportunity for leading women to showcase the depth of their talent, attract more clients, and propel their career.

To be held on Thursday, 24 November 2022, the prestigious national awards program shines a spotlight on executives, barristers, academics, pro bono, rising stars, and other legal professionals in large and boutique firms.

Click here to submit an entry or nominate a worthy colleague by 9 September 2022 to be in the running for these prestigious awards.

For more information, including categories and judging process, click here.