A Comp Laude Overview: Community and Commitment


The Comp Laude awards have become a part of the American workers' compensation landscape. Each year nominations are opened and we encourage participation. Some thoughts from 2017 are here. Some broader overview thoughts from 2016 are here. And, as a proud honoree, I was privileged to share my thoughts on Comp Laude in the WCC World Blog last fall. That is a sampling. I have written fairly often about the Comp Laude efforts instigated by David DePaolo, to recognize what is good and right in workers' compensation. 

In 2017, the awards were barely awarded when the discussion had begun about nominations for the 2018 awards. I was surprised by that, but organizers reminded that it takes significant promotion and discussion to generate nominations. We all get busy and distracted in the day-to-day, you know, in our real jobs. Though the opportunity to nominate was opened months in advance, I must admit that my nominations in 2018 waited for the spring, waited for the deadline, waited for some sense of urgency. Why do we all put things off until the last minute?

I made 14 nominations in 2017. I initially identified them all in writing this blog, and then elected not to. Suffice it to say I nominated claimant attorneys, defense attorneys, doctors, industry leaders, philanthropy projects, pundits, writers, and speakers. I nominated from Florida, Kansas, Tennessee, and Texas. The nomination process is online and simple. It requires knowing your nominee's name, email address and phone number. 

The process for selecting winners is a tiered process. Literally hundreds were nominated. Members of a committee individually review all of those nominations. In the interest of full disclosure, I served this year on that review committee. Thus, I was one voice in deciding which nominees would proceed to the "second level" of review. 

That initial review process was challenging, and involved a great deal of reading, re-reading, and consideration. I spent hours reading about great members of our national workers' compensation community. My participation in that process gives me and unfathomable level of respect and appreciation for those individuals critical in the next step of the Comp Laude process, the judges who will now have to pick honorees from those that progressed from that review process to the "second level."

After the initial review was conducted, the nominees who progressed to the "second level" received emails from the Comp Laude. For most, that was their first inkling that they had been nominated. Several of those I nominated forwarded their email to me, thanking me for recognizing their effort and contributions. To a person, each of them was modest, shy, perhaps even a bit embarrassed at the attention. I was proud of that. I think too little attention is paid in this workers' compensation world to modest people who dedicate their lives to making it work. They lead us, inspire us, and motivate us, but they tend to downplay their contribution and shun recognition. 

I corresponded with several. My main message, responding to their demurring, is that their sentiment only convinces me more that they should be recognized. They are contributors for the sake of progress and contribution, and do not seek recognition or thanks. Those are the people we should be thanking, following, and emulating.  

I was honored yesterday to submit the "second-level information" for the last of my nominees that progressed to the "second level." That process, admittedly, was a bit more challenging. The "second level" requires gathering a digital photograph, a biography, at least one reference, and writing a 500 word narrative regarding the nominee. This is an in-depth explanation for the judges regarding who the nominee is, their path to today, their investment or commitment regarding workers' compensation, and how their values and contributions support recognition with a Comp Laude award. 

I learned that many of those I nominated are are not so "Internet-apparent." I struggled to find photos of several. I struggled to find biographies, resorting in several instances to drafting narratives about their history. In the process of drafting, proofreading, and submitting, I learned more about each of them. Note that I know enough of each to have concluded to nominate them, but I was still surprised learning more of their depth, commitment, and journey. It is astounding how much people do to contribute to this industry, its progress, and the people it serves. 

I mentioned above the respect and appreciation I have for the judges who must now perform the "second level" review. But, in fairness, I also frankly pity them deeply. Submitting "second level" information supports my conclusion, unequivocally, that those poor judges will face and unbelievably difficult task. Of all of these nominees, the judges must now select honorees, who will be announced in San Diego in October. It will be like trying to pick an MVP from the American Olympic basketball “dream team.“ It will be magnificently difficult, challenging, and perhaps frustrating. 

My 2018 Comp Laude experience of nominating, first-level review, and documenting my nominees in the "second level," led me to a few conclusions. First, I am more firmly convinced than ever that this industry is blessed with a great many individuals who exhibit a tremendous character and commitment to functionality, innovation, and progress. The nominees are a fantastic array of contributors. To be nominated is a great compliment. Someone, somewhere, took notice of these nominees and then devoted the time to documenting their contribution. That is meaningful.

Second, there are so many who should be nominated. As I worked on my "second level" information, and contacted potential references for each, I found myself ruminating on those references. I found myself asking why those references themselves have not been nominated. It caused me to start a scratch-pad list for the 2019 nominations to come. Though this process demanded time, I will be back making nominations next year. 

Third, someone once said it’s not the destination, but the journey.  It occurs to me that not everyone nominated will be presented an award. Having read about and considered the nominees, that outcome is a bit troubling. These nominees are all worthy, outstanding, and deserving. I therefore return to the conclusion that it is absolutely a tremendous honor merely to be nominated. When that nominee list is published, just prior to the Comp Laude event in October, we will see a phenomenal list of people. 

As an aside, I dictated most of this post. Voice recognition is a great benefit, but has its shortcomings. When I dictate "Comp Laude," my software consistently hears "comp loudly." After making multiple corrections in this post, it occurs to me that "comp loudly" is actually pretty descriptive and fitting. 

Let's get loud about workers' compensation. If you don't know one professional worthy of recognition, you need to get out more. If you do know one, then plan now to make a nomination in the fall for 2019. Take the time to let someone in this industry know that you notice their effort, commitment, and contribution. That is a part of community. And, I have taken to heart the message of one of our industry leaders (whom I nominated this year). This leader emphasizes that how we describe is critical. In that spirit, this will be my last post in which I refer to workers' compensation as an "industry," and henceforth will use only "community." Those little changes, nuances, make a difference. 

In closing, I invite you to be a part of that community. Take the time to submit a Comp Laude nomination for 2019. Take the time to review the list 2018 of nominees later this fall and drop an email or make a call to someone that made that list. Tell them you noticed, tell them you appreciate them, thank them for being in your community. In the end, it is a journey. I am thankful for you, my fellow passengers. Though none of us say it often enough, thank you. 


David Langham is the Florida Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims. He blogs weekly regarding system issues, regulations and decisions. He has published many articles and delivered more than 1,000 professional speeches.




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    About The Author

    • Judge David Langham

      David Langham is the Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims at the Division of Administrative Hearings. He has been involved in workers’ compensation for over 25 years as an attorney, an adjudicator, and administrator. He has delivered hundreds of professional lectures, published numerous articles on workers’ compensation in a variety of publications, and is a frequent blogger on Florida Workers’ Compensation Adjudication. David is a founding director of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary and the Professional Mediation Institute, and is involved in the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). He is a vocal advocate of leveraging technology and modernizing the dispute resolution processes of workers’ compensation.

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