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Regulation apply is a enterprise and as such, legal professionals want a approach to distinguish themselves from their friends to draw potential purchasers. Some use their elite regulation levels. Others use their expertise working for the federal government or a significant regulation agency or firm.

However some legal professionals attempt to get hold of as many “superior lawyer” awards as they will.

A possible consumer doing their due diligence is perhaps impressed by the flowery seals on lawyer web sites claiming that they’re top-of-the-line within the discipline. The necessities to win these awards differ. Some require you’ve a strong status. However others assure you an “superior lawyer” award in case you pay for his or her plaques and different promoting gimmicks.

How is a possible consumer presupposed to know if an award truly means one thing?

Final month, the Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) had one thing to say about these awards.

The FTC’s web site revealed a weblog submit warning customers to look past the awards when hiring a lawyer. It acknowledged that these fancy wanting seals and badges is perhaps vainness or ego awards that legal professionals should purchase. They don’t title names however recommends that individuals search on-line for the title of whoever is giving the award plus phrases like “vainness,” “ego,” “advertising,” and “rip-off.”

They subsequent present recommendation to customers searching for to rent a lawyer:

  • Ask for suggestions from folks you belief who have already got expertise hiring legal professionals. On-line opinions might be made up or written by folks with private ties to the legal professionals.
  • Legal professionals should go a state bar examination to apply regulation within the U.S., and so they usually need to be admitted to the bar within the state the place they apply. Examine the state bar affiliation to see if the legal professional is lively, inactive, disciplined, or disbarred.
  • Search for precise accomplishments and work expertise. Many court docket paperwork are public document and you’ll see if the lawyer you’re contemplating has expertise dealing with your sort of authorized challenge.

What motivated the FTC to publish this? Did they obtain an unusually giant variety of complaints both from jilted purchasers or snubbed attorneys?

Is it doable that the FTC may take motion towards the businesses that give out the extra doubtful awards? Might an investigation power these corporations to reveal how they select their winners? Many of those award corporations declare to conduct a background investigation earlier than deciding on a candidate though they aren’t clear on how candidates are vetted. Such an investigation would seemingly be troublesome as a result of it’s arduous to find out what makes a lawyer distinctive amongst their friends. Is it based mostly on their data of the regulation? The outcomes they achieved? Their hourly fee?

A few of these awards tout their exclusivity, citing that solely a small proportion of attorneys win these awards. Whereas this will likely give a way of legitimacy, it’s also exclusionary. Some superb attorneys will miss the reduce solely as a result of there was not sufficient room for them or they didn’t market themselves sufficient or to the suitable folks.

As talked about earlier than, most legal professional awards are little greater than flawed reputation contests. And that’s not essentially a nasty factor since most attorneys wouldn’t nominate a colleague who’s horrible at their job or has a nasty media presence. However these awards would possibly incentivize some attorneys to focus extra on advertising and networking than on perfecting their craft. And people with extra promoting sources can have a greater likelihood of acquiring these awards.

Whatever the flaws of lawyer awards, many search them out anyway as a result of it’s an excellent ego increase, and potential purchasers do have a look at them. They could assume that an award implies that the issuing group did the due diligence that they can not do on their very own. Or they assume that any award is healthier than none.

The FTC has lastly made a press release cautioning the general public to take a look at lawyer awards with a level of skepticism. An award is perhaps suspicious in case you observed that fifty of your colleagues received the issuer’s Prime 40 Legal professionals Below 40 award. The most probably state of affairs is that this can be nothing greater than a public service announcement. However whether or not the submit will present up on the primary web page of a Google search is questionable. However hopefully it would encourage customers to correctly analysis a potential legal professional as a substitute of wanting solely at awards.


Steven Chung is a tax legal professional in Los Angeles, California. He helps folks with fundamental tax planning and resolve tax disputes. He’s additionally sympathetic to folks with giant pupil loans. He might be reached through electronic mail at stevenchungatl@gmail.com. Or you possibly can join with him on Twitter (@stevenchung) and join with him on LinkedIn.





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