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The world of prizes

28 April 2014

International law awards are a growth industry. While some awards are well established, most have arisen in the last decade. For the award providers it’s a well-established formula for credibility and good earnings in an uncertain financial environment. Establish awards which recognise achievement by law firms and the winners will ensure their success and your name is publicised.

Most of the international awards follow a set formula. They are either won through being listed in a directory of high-performing lawyers or they are managed by an international business publication which is almost invariably published or owned by an English company. There are no international family or criminal law awards.

To help make some sense of the multiplicity of the various awards, here is a quick guide to some where New Zealand firms and lawyers have been among the winners. The focus is on international awards. Last month Australian company Key Media announced that it would be continuing the New Zealand Law Awards which it purchased from LexisNexis NZ Ltd. This year’s event will be held in Auckland on 6 November and awards will be made in 22 separate categories. The New Zealand Law Society’s Auckland branch will also be repeating its successful 2012 Auckland Law Awards later this year.

Acquisition International M&A Awards

A monthly corporate finance magazine owned by English company AI Global Media Ltd. Its annual awards ceremony has been held since 2010. Awards are decided by votes and in-house research. A large number of awards are made (such as Dental Law Firm of the Year – UK), with 16 New Zealand firms winning something in 2013.

ALB Australasian Law Awards

The 2013 awards were the last. Australasian Legal Business magazine has been folded into Asian Legal Business by owners Thomson Reuters and it appears that the Australasian awards have folded as well. This year’s Asian awards do not contain any Australian or New Zealand events.

Chambers Asia Pacific Awards

London-based Chambers and Partners has published rankings of lawyers and law firms since 1990 and now covers 185 jurisdictions. Ratings are done by researchers who interview lawyers and clients and assess published information. The annual Chambers Asia Pacific Awards for Excellence include a New Zealand Law Firm of the Year, with Chapman Tripp winning in 2014. Webb Henderson is the only New Zealand-connected firm to appear in the Asia Pacific areas of practice rankings (for TMT). David Williams QC is listed in Asia Pacific’s most in-demand international arbitrators.

Corporate INTL Magazine Legal Award

English company JRS Corporate Ltd publishes a monthly international business magazine and other resources. Its global legal awards have run since 2008 and commemorate “those who have been successful over the past 12 months and who have shown excellence not only in expertise but in service”. The awards are independently judged by a panel after nominations by readers and others on its database of “business leaders and decision makers”. In-house research narrows this down to a shortlist. No New Zealand firm won an award in the 2013 Asia and Oceania section.

Finance Monthly Law Awards

This English-owned international publication established its Global Awards in 2008. The awards recognise law firms and professionals who have, over the past 12 months, consistently excelled in all areas of their research and set new standards of client service. Votes and feedback from readers are combined with analysis of client feedback, market data and other research by in-house staff. A number of New Zealand firms win awards in the different practice categories each year.

Global Competition Review Law Awards

Owned by London-based Law Business Research Ltd, the Global Competition Review publishes annual guides to the world’s leading competition law and economics practices. The GCR 100 is a guide to the world’s leading competition law and economics practices. Information on winners is generally available only to subscribers, but a number of New Zealand’s big firms have claimed a mention.


This is a big operation, with staff based in New York, London and Hong Kong. Owned by Euromoney’s Legal Media Group, it produces an annual guide to the world’s leading financial law firms. The 24th edition covers 120 jurisdictions. It features selected leading lawyers and rising stars. While firms may list themselves, the IFLR1000 researches and ranks lawyers and law firms by practice area and performance. The latest edition lists and ranks 15 New Zealand firms in the four main categories, along with 73 “leading lawyers”.

International Law Office Client Choice

Globe Business Publishing Ltd’s Client Choice is a searchable database of lawyers and law firms which is designed for use by senior in-house counsel. Inevitably, Globe is an English company. The annual awards were established in 2005 with the objective of recognising law firms and partners around the world for the excellent client service they provide. Winners are chosen with a readership survey of International Law Office and Lexology in-house counsel subscribers and this is followed up by research. This year there were 450 individual winners across 73 jurisdictions, with 11 New Zealand lawyers winning in various New Zealand practice areas. Top law firms were chosen in 40 jurisdictions, with Russell McVeagh the 2014 New Zealand winner.

Managing Intellectual Property Global Awards

The operator is a London-based company which provides news and information on intellectual property developments. An annual award ceremony presents Global Awards on a regional basis, including South, South East Asia and Australasia. The magazine also publishes surveys and rankings. A number of New Zealand firms and lawyers are listed and ranked and Simpson Grierson won the 2014 New Zealand Law Firm of the Year award.

The Legal 500 Asia Pacific

Owned by English publisher Legalease, this provides guides and rankings of law firms around the world, including New Zealand. Researchers talk to law firm clients and also travel to over 50 countries a year to carry out more detailed research. The New Zealand section is now available as a separate e-book. The latest edition lists and ranks 32 New Zealand firms in 10 different categories, as well as a good number of individual lawyers.

Who’s Who Legal Awards

Another Law Business Research Ltd publication, this publishes an annual Who’s Who Legal 100, listing the world’s top 100 law firms based on “our extensive research into the global business law marketplace”. An annual awards ceremony includes country awards, with Simpson Grierson winning the 2014 award for New Zealand.

Last updated on the 17th March 2016