“There is a lot of interest in the legal market in who wins these awards,” Mr Stirling said.
“When it comes to recruiters and other people targeting candidates for particular roles, [awards] help them stand out.”
Mr Stirling spoke to Lawyers Weekly following the launch of the Australian Law Awards 2015. Submissions have now opened online.
Industry recognition helps candidates cut through the competition regardless of their level of experience, according to Mr Stirling. Recognition by independent judges can give junior lawyers an edge when vying for limited promotions, even if they are only listed as a finalist.
“There are often more [senior associates] than there are opportunities to progress further towards partnership.”
At the partner level, awards are just one way that lawyers can raise their profile, according to Mr Stirling. A listing in Chambers and Partners or The Legal 500 can also have a positive effect on a lawyer’s career trajectory.
Preparing a strong awards submission or nomination takes time, but Mr Stirling believes it is worth the effort.
“When I have spoken to lawyers who have won awards they are often quite surprised to actually be recognised.
“It is worth putting yourself in the mix, because it does help to invest in your career.
“It is a useful process, anyway, to look at where your own skills lie. Even if you are not recognised this time [you should] continue to put your name forward.”
On the flip side, law firms that win awards are often more attractive to the top candidates, Mr Stirling said.
“When it comes to the best talent in the market, often the candidates will have several offers and several choices of where they could go on to work.
“They are looking [for] the best firm and the best team within their own specialised areas.
“They will look at things like Chambers and Legal 500 listings and the type of work partners do. If the partners have been recognised through awards … then it does make [them] more attractive.
“It's not the only factor, by any means, but it is certainly something that makes a team stand out.”