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Think your firm or practice is killing it? Let your clients be the judge of that; by entering the 2020 Client Choice Awards.

The Awards, which are backed by NAB and global consulting powerhouse beaton, have celebrated the best professional services firms in law and accounting for 15 years. Unlike other industry awards, the winners are the “clients’ choice” – awarded by a judging panel that carefully analyses customer feedback submitted by real clients answering survey questions about the firm and the service it provided them.

The Awards have targeted large top-tier firms for the past 15 years, hosted by the Australian Financial Review in partnership with beaton. But in 2019, the entry categories have been expanded to include small and medium-sized firms as well as sole practices.

Research partner FirmChecker, an innovative start-up that collates online client reviews of law firms and makes them public via a subscription service, has come on board to assist in analysing and gathering customer feedback for smaller-sized firms. Since 2017, FirmChecker had hosted a separate awards for smaller firms, called the Professional Services Awards.

“We’re excited to partner with Beaton to open the Awards up to firms that might not be huge in size but still provide a great client experience,” said Ben Farrow, Managing Director of FirmChecker.

“Participation with FirmChecker and the Awards will be intrinsically valuable because of the independent insights firms can get through participating.”

LSJ magazine will also join for the first time as media sponsor in 2020.

Law firms wishing to enter the Awards must collect at least 30 completed client surveys evaluating their customer service and perceived value. Those who enter via FirmChecker’s website gain a free 30-day trial to the subscription service, allowing them to also read the feedback from their clients online via real-time dashboards.

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George Beaton, Executive Chairman of beaton, speaking at the 2019 Client Choice Awards.

Firms that already subscribe to FirmChecker’s review and rating system are automatically considered – negating the need for firms to hassle former clients to complete surveys and easing the burden on smaller firms that may be time-poor or have fewer clients and projects than the larger firms.

“Rather than being judged by filling out a time-consuming application to a panel, the Client Choice Awards reflect the differences law firms make to their clients’ lives – as judged by the clients themselves. It’s fantastic that FirmChecker’s technology is extending this opportunity to thousands of smaller firms and giving them useful feedback in the process,” said George Beaton, Executive Chairman of beaton.

To be eligible for the Awards, firms must sign up via the FirmChecker website by 4 November 2019. Participants then have three months to gather at least 30 genuine client responses, before the entry deadline of 4 February 2020. The price of entry is two-months subscription ($99 a month for a total of two months beyond the free trial).

Finalists will be announced on 19 February 2020 and the winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Melbourne on 19 March.