Best Lawyers/Legal Elite

How can we create our Best Lawyers/Legal Elite project more efficiently? Right now it takes a massive amount of time and effort.

Best Lawyers/Legal Elite is a peer-nominations-based project wherein a publication (usually a business journal or city magazine) sends out voting ballots to all licensed lawyers in the region. From there, lawyers vote and submit their ballots, voting for their favorite lawyers in a variety of categories. Once ballots have been submitted, the originating publication then processes and tallies these ballots. Finally, the publication vets the winners to make sure they are eligible and declares a certain group of the nominees (those receiving the most votes) as winners.

  • Source Data Acquisition. Gaining address & contact info from the local Bar Association so that voting ballots can be sent.
  • Voting. Lawyers receive ballots and vote.
  • Selection of Winners.  Selecting the winners based on top percentage, or highest number of votes.
  • Qualification of Winners. Verifying that the nominee has an active license and is not involved in any actions that would disqualify him/her.
  • Verification. Acquiring/updating published contact information directly from winners.
  • Print Publishing. Design and formatting for print feature.
  • Online Publishing. Deploying the results online.

  • Source Data Collection. It can be difficult to acquire good contact information for lawyers who need to receive ballots. 
  • Ballots. Most pubs do a mix between online and printed ballots.
    • Printed Ballots: 
      • Can incur significant mailing costs.
      • Require hours of manual labor to process, including manual transcription of text into Excel (or something like it), trying to read and interpret people's handwriting, and allocating someone on staff to condut multiple hours of pure data entry.
    • Online Ballots: 
      • Data is collected through an online form, but generally compiled into an Excel spreadsheet. This file can end up being thousands and thousands of rows. From here, someone has to manually consolidate the winners, since each vote ends up in its own row of the spreadsheet. To make matters more difficult, the staffer assigned to tallying will need to account for misspellings and alternate spellings of names of candidates, leading to a high possibility for error. Not to mention, the tallying process is extremely time consuming.  
  • Other Challenges. Post a comment below to tell us about other challenges you have encountered. 

  • Online Ballot Management System. DataJoe provides a complete online balloting system that automates many of the processes that make Legal Elite so time consuming. In time, DataJoe can replace all print based balloting, eliminating both postal costs and massive time investment of hand-entering printed ballots.
  • Autopopulating Voting Forms. DataJoe ballot forms contain autopopulation, so that voters can start typing the name of nominee and be presented with a list of options. From there, the voter can select from the list. This simple feature can eliminate TENS OF HOURS of manual vote consolidating during the balloting stage - you don't have to rack your brain to make sure that Billy B. Williams and Willie William are the same person. Try it. (once you reach the form, type the first three letters of my name, Johnny Levy, into one of the voting fields and wait for the list of options to appear.)
  • Collect Emails. In the ballots, you can collect email addresses for voters. These emails will come in handy during the Verification stage. 
  • Automatic Tallying. Enough said. Since all votes are submitted into the database, the database can conduct tallying. This includes the ability to weight 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices differently. 
  • Automated Verification. By collecting emails from voters or getting them some additional way, you can then blast a verification survey directly to your winners.  This saves a LOT of time, because your winners will be HIGHLY MOTIVATED to provide you with good information. You will undoubtedly see a high response rate - I would postulate 60-95%.
  • Automated Print Publishing. Once the winners are selected, you can export a complete directory (you can choose the data you want to include) into *.DOC and *.XLS formats. 
  • Automated Online Publishing. By integrating a widget (i.e. a tiny snippet of code) into a Web page on your site, you can have a plug and play solution for online display that updates in real time whenever updates are made in the database. This widget also enables you to make the product searchable and interactive. It's awesome. 

Whether you choose to utilize DataJoe or not, there are some general principles that can help you improve your workflow and save time. 
  • Get Outside Your Comfort Zone. We can get stuck in our workflow just because "it's always been done this way." That can lead to antiquated processes and a colossal waste of time. Be willing to re-evaluate the way you are doing things.
  • Put on your Binoculars. Have a long term view. Most publications seem to implement this project in a way that does not yield any significant advantage for next year's project. You have a choice. You can implement in a way that "gets it done" for the year, or you can implement in a way that will make it easier and less time consuming in successive years. The second strategy requires more labor up front, but can guarantee amazing dividends over a 3-5 year period.
  • Ask Questions.  Trade secrets and strategies with others who have done similar projects.

  • Virginia Business

Post a comment below, shoot me an email ( or give me a call (303-989-1300).

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