The Legal Department of the Year contest recognizes the Washington, D.C. region’s top in-house departments in six distinct categories. To qualify, the departments must be led by lawyers from the Washington, D.C. metro area. The deadline for submissions is February 6. Please send your submissions to: nljsurvey@alm.com. 

Each essay should be no more than 500 words. And please include Law Department Information, as detailed below, to accompany each submission. Each entrant can apply for as many of the six Categories as they wish, with a separate essay to accompany each Category submission. Please contact Sam Skolnik at sskolnik@alm.com or at 202-828-0317 if you have questions.

The awards are based on success stories: how a given corporate counsel’s office, regardless of its size, came up with innovative programs, used ingenuity to solve problems or surmounted a scarcity of resources and still delivered a high quality of client service. Among the general questions you should try address in your entry:

• What makes your legal department special? Tell us how your department stands out from the crowd.

• Have you faced any litigation challenges in the last year? If so, tell us about them.

• How have you managed outside counsel?

• Have you had any important developments in your use of technology?

• Do you have significant pro bono programs?

• Is your legal department diverse? What kind of quality-of-life initiatives have you attempted?

Law Department Information

Please provide the following information:

• Company:

• Headquarters:

• Industry:

• Number of lawyers in the Washington, D.C. area:

• Number of lawyers in the U.S.:

• Number of lawyers worldwide:

• Contact person (include telephone and email) whom we may contact with questions:


CATEGORY 1: Legal Department of the Year

Please submit a short essay. Among the questions you should attempt to answer:

In describing all matters, please provide specific details about what your in-house lawyers did in each case. Please limit yourself to accomplishments that occurred in the last calendar year (though you can describe work done in prior years that contributed to the accomplishment). Among the questions you should attempt to answer:

• Describe your most significant litigation activities in the last year, including pretrial achievements, trial victories, arbitrations, and settlements.

• Describe any unique strategies for multiple litigation matters, such as suits involving the same product.

• Describe any out-of-the-ordinary non-litigation matters in the last year, such as working on a major M&A transaction or responding to a government investigation.

• Describe any unique strategies for routine non-litigation matters, such as patent applications or employment contracts.

CATEGORY 2: Outside Counsel Management

Please submit a short essay. Among the questions you should attempt to answer:

• How do you choose outside counsel: on a case-by-case basis, or by a preferred providers list?

• Describe any innovative selection techniques to choose outside counsel that you used in 2011.

• By what percentage did your spending on outside counsel increase or decrease in 2011?

• Describe any innovative fee arrangements that you reached with outside counsel in 2011.

• Describe any other major innovations in managing outside counsel that you’ve put into place.

• Describe your most significant litigation activities in the last year, including pretrial achievements, trial victories, arbitrations, and settlements.

CATEGORY 3: Technology

Please submit a short essay. Among the questions you should attempt to answer:

• Describe any innovative uses of technology that your legal department put into place in during the last year. We’re specifically interested in how people use technology, and how it’s made work in the department easier and more efficient.

CATEGORY 4: Diversity and Quality of Life

Please submit a short essay. Among the questions you should attempt to answer:

• What is the current percentage of women attorneys among your lawyers? Among your senior lawyers? How have these percentages changed from the previous year?

• What is the current percentage of minority American attorneys among your lawyers? Among your senior lawyers? (Please provide a breakdown by category: African American, Hispanic American, Asian American and Other Minority American.) How have these percentages changed from the previous year?

• Describe in detail how you encourage and reward diversity—both in your legal department, and among your outside law firms. Are you a signatory to the Call to Action?

• Do you have a defined route for the advancement of your in-house lawyers? If so, describe.

• Describe any innovative or flexible time arrangements for your in-house lawyers.

CATEGORY 5: Pro Bono and Community Service

Please submit a short essay. Among the questions you should attempt to answer:

• Do you have a formal legal pro bono program? Please describe. How do you encourage your in-house lawyers to participate? Are you a signatory to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge?

• Describe significant pro bono or community service projects that your department worked on in the last year. Please provide the number of attorneys and amount of hours that were contributed to each project.

CATEGORY 6: Corporate Compliance

Please submit a short essay. Among the questions you should attempt to answer:

• Describe any innovative compliance programs that your legal department put into place in the last year.

• How have you creatively communicated compliance information to all employees to ensure that they understand and adhere to company policy?

• How have you used technology to help manage your compliance program?