Awards for Lawyers: DBR’s Most Effective Lawyers Awards Overview [South Florida Attorneys Only]

Law firms of all sizes are always looking for ways to sharpen their business development strategy. Legal awards and recognitions are often overlooked due to the perceived boastfulness and self-promoting nature.

Nevertheless, your prospective clients are rapidly gathering their opinion on your credibility and the likely outcome of your legal expertise on their case within seconds of scanning through page one of their search results. 

With a carefully crafted (and executed) marketing plan, potential customers may find themselves on your legal website along with a handful of your competitors. One of the categories that prospects will consider and weigh before even calling your phone number is your recognition and perceived gravitas from those in the industry. 

That’s where recognition from brands like Daily Business Review fit in your strategy to grow your business.

Daily Business Review’s Most Effective Lawyers Snapshot

Most Effective Lawyers is an annual award given out by Daily Business Review, one of the many regional legal publications owned by marketing and information company ALM. DBR is the official court newspaper for county and circuit courts in Miami-Dade and Broward as well as the Southern District of Florida. It also covers South Florida’s real estate and business.

Each year, DBR selects honorees in 20 practice areas to highlight in its annual Most Effective Lawyers edition, which comes out every December. This award is DBR’s attempt to profile local lawyers who’ve achieved impressive victories for clients in the last year. 

Why You Should Apply (And Why You Shouldn’t)

Like other awards given out by ALM publications, Most Effective Lawyers is a good-faith attempt to highlight successful lawyers in the area. Judges only select one recipient for each practice area, so it’s a genuinely selective award, too. They may try to sell you some advertising if you win, but overall, you can be legitimately proud if you’re one of the attorneys chosen by DBR. 

There aren’t many downsides to applying, but if you want to use your win as an opportunity to impress potential clients, you may want to consider DBR’s target audience. Winners are highlighted in the December issue of Daily Business Review and on DBR’s website (behind a paywall, we might add). That’s great if you’re targeting corporate clients who read DBR anyway, but chances are slim that non-readers will hear about the award. If your clients are people outside the South Florida business community, you’ll need to do the heavy lifting to promote your win to them. 

DBR’s Most Effective Lawyers Award Overview

Applications Due (typically): Submissions are usually due in October.

Recipients Notified (typically): Winners are notified within a month. DBR publishes its list online and in print sometime in November or December. 

Award Recipients: This award is open to private practice lawyers (or teams of lawyers) in South Florida who have demonstrated proof of positive results for clients. Most major practice areas are covered.

Annual Award: Yes, DBR offers this award every year. 

Estimated Cost: No application fee and minimal marketing sales.

Award Recognition Promotion Options:

  • Newsletter/Digital Magazine Inclusion: Yes
  • Physical Magazine promotions: Yes
  • Plaques: No
  • Physical Awards: No
  • Press Release Options:  No
  • Directory Inclusion: No
  • Additional Advertising Options: There are advertising options available in DBR’s December issue, which highlights that year’s Most Effective Lawyers honorees. 


  • Expertise: DBR selects winners in about 20 practice areas leaning toward corporate and government law, although areas like personal injury and family law are represented. Winners are usually the people behind the scenes of the year’s headline-making and legally significant cases.
  • Years of Legal Experience: DBR doesn’t specify, but past honorees are generally mid-career or beyond lawyers. 
  • Limit on # of Attorneys Nominated from Firm?: There is no rule limiting the number of nominations from the same firm. Multiple attorneys who worked as a team on a case can submit one nomination and, if chosen, are honored as a group. It’s also possible for attorneys at the firm from different practice areas to win under different categories. 
  • Case Results/Outcomes? Case results play a significant role in the selection process. One of the only criteria is that winners have proof of positive results obtained for a client. Depending on the practice area, judges tend to favor nominees with one impressive mega-case over nominees with a lot of smaller cases. 
  • Recommendations/Nominations? No recommendations or nominations needed to apply.

How to Win

You can’t fake this award--you either have the track record to win or you don’t. While it never hurts to apply for a free award, you might want to reserve your efforts for when you’ve had an especially good year and can write a killer nomination. 

Legal publications tend to share the love among award recipients, and they like seeing new applicants so they don’t keep giving the same awards to the same people. If you can wow the judges on your first try with a legitimately impressive case outcome and a well-written nomination, you’ll most likely be at the top of their list.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a South Florida lawyer who worked on a meaty, impressive case in the last year, it’s worth a shot to apply for DBR’s Most Effective Lawyers. It’s selective, free to apply, and a genuine marker of the best of the Sunshine State.

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