Why legal counsel should throw their hat in the awards ring
Cyber security lawyer and award winner Annie Haggar has encouraged in-house lawyers to nominate themselves for awards.
Last year, Accenture strategic partnerships global legal lead Annie Haggar won the Technology, Media and Telecommunications Lawyer of the Year category at the Corporate Counsel Awards.
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“It’s difficult to describe how honoured I was,” Ms Haggar exclaimed to Lawyers Weekly.
“It was really the pinnacle of the journey that I’d been on. Six years ago, when I started the role in Accenture’s security legal team, the business was much slower and I knew nothing about cybersecurity. But over the six years leading up to the award last year, my understanding of cybersecurity and how I could support the business grew. The award was recognition of the success of Accenture security and my professional and personal growth in supporting them in my role.”
The 2022 Corporate Counsel Awards is being held on Thursday, 5 May 2022, at The Star in Sydney. The deadlines for the submissions and nominations close on Friday, 25 February, with finalists to be announced in March.
When asked what distinguished her from her peers and secured the trophy last year, Ms Haggar said she believed the breadth of her global role and the size of Accenture security had enabled her to demonstrate knowledge not just in Australia but also in New Zealand, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and globally.
Furthermore, designing a legal risk strategy for providing services in the security measures and acquisitions due diligence advisory space demonstrated her contribution on a global scale.
“It helped me identify how the business could streamline its offerings and bring a new and unique offering to the market,” she explained.
Ms Haggar also led the training agenda for the Accenture global legal team so they could support security deals across the world.
“There were over 2,500 lawyers in those teams and I was responsible for bringing them up to scratch in relation to their knowledge and capacity to handle security deals,” she said.
“We now handle thousands of security deals every year using that team of lawyers.”
After winning the award, Ms Haggar not only commenced her new role of leading a global team of 12 who are based around the world at the end of last year, she has also capitalised on her achievement and increased her profile in her profession by accepting speaking opportunities.
These include participating in the upcoming panel discussion about the role of GCs and CCs in bolstering their clients’ cyber security posture in their businesses at the Corporate Counsel Summit later this year, podcasts, speaking engagements at the ACT Law Society, as well as CPD sessions.
“Winning the award has given me an opportunity to get out there and speak more about the things that I’m passionate about, which are security, technology, and law,” she said.
As such, she encouraged other in-house counsel teams to “put their hand up” and nominate themselves for awards and emphasised the significance of receiving recognition.
“I was lucky enough to be nominated for some of the awards I won last year but not for all of them,” she said.
“I put my own hand up for some of those because I felt it was important to get that recognition in the legal profession for my contributions. So, don’t be afraid to put your own hand up.”
In particular, Ms Haggar urged women to nominate themselves for in-house counsel awards.
“I don’t think we promote ourselves enough. We hope that someone else will understand how hard we work so I think it’s really important for women to put their hands up,” she said.
In addition, she encouraged lawyers to inform their business or company about their intentions to nominate themselves so that they could contribute to the submissions with letters of recommendation.
“What made a real difference for me was having the head of Accenture security in Australia and New Zealand write a letter that I’ve included in my pack to say how much he valued my input,” Ms Haggar said.
“Even if you don’t win, having that in writing from a key stakeholder in your business demonstrates that they support you and value your work, which is an incredible boost.”