The California Leaders in Tech Law awarded corporate legal departments, firms and outside providers who were doing interesting and innovative work primarily for the tech industry in Silicon Valley. But we know that's not the only place where innovation is happening. So we wanted to expand the awards nationwide and take a look at the wider variety of work happening in the legal space—not only for the tech industry, but innovation happening in other areas of the law as well.

Corporate legal departments, law firms and outside providers who are proud of their work, believe it's different from what the rest of the industry is doing, and believe it can serve as a model for the industry to help push the law forward. That's a high bar, to be certain—but a high bar is increasingly what's demanded in the current legal world.

Perhaps the main difference from what we've done in the past is opening things up to other industries. There's innovation happening across the board, and we want to hear about it from all industries. But with that said, we also know that the tech industry is often on the forefront of innovation, so don't shy away from Big Tech just for variety—industry will not be a consideration in judging, but rather than actual work itself.

All entries will be looked over by ALM's editorial staff, including myself and others associated with, Corporate Counsel, The American Lawyer, and others where relevant. From there, we'll determine finalists that will go to an outside panel of judges, including senior in-house counsel, law firm partners and executives, legal educators, jurists and others. We'll make sure that like aren't evaluating like; if you're a law firm, for instance, you won't be judged by someone at a competing firm.

Above all else, we're looking for uniqueness: What's new and exciting about the work that you're doing? For instance, it's great that the deal you worked on was a nine-figure M&A transaction. But how did that deal come about? Was there a new workflow that you had to put into place? Did you draw in different business units to work together in a new way? Was there a piece of technology that brought everything together to make things smoother? And it's important to note: This isn't a "best use of technology" awards, but rather "most innovative," which can have a number of different definitions.

Specifics are key, which is why we're asking for multiple representative matters in some categories. We don't want to hear, "We're an innovative legal department." We want to know how, with facts and figures where applicable, you got the work done that you did. We allow for elements of the submissions to be marked confidential if needed. Our goal is to have the best information possible to help judge the awards, and will take into account confidential portions of the submissions. It does become difficult, however, to award submissions that are marked fully confidential as we won't be able to explain publicly why the submission won.