Articles Tagged with “Lawyer Ratings”

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In the November 2013 issue of Your ABA, the monthly e-news for attorney members, they have effectively recapped my October CLE on lawyer rankings and ratings with an excellent top ten list of suggestions, based on speaker comments and the examples provided.

Nearly 5,000 ABA members tuned into the monthly ABA CLE Premier Speaker Series, which I led along with my esteemed colleagues–Florida Bar ethics counsel Elizabeth Tarbert and Best Lawyers co-founder and President Steve Naifeh. We were able to provide three very different perspectives of a powerful industry in the legal marketplace. Tarbert focused on bar compliance issues. Naifeh gave the perspective of the companies in this space. And I fell somewhere in the middle–since I provide guidance on ethics issues as an attorney and guidance on participation as a marketer.

The topic continues to spark controversy and interest in the profession–and will continue to do so as our business evolves. From the “original” Martindale AV to tier one in Chambers USA; top honors in the Best Lawyers/US News & World Reports law firm rankings to effective visibility on Avvo; working the popularity polls for your local-yokel “Top” Lawyer lists in your hometown to the truckload of lists, surveys and rankings from American Lawyer Media publications. There are thousands to choose from. Figuring out which matter is just the start of the process.

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ABA_CLE.pngAmerican Bar Association members receive free continuing legal education credits through the monthly CLE Premier Speaker Series. Sponsored by the ABA and the Center for Professional Development, thousands of attorneys participate in each month’s complimentary webinar program.

It is a tremendous honor to have my program, Lawyer Rankings and Ratings: The Impact on Ethics and the Profession, selected for inclusion, on Monday, October 21, 2013 from 1-2:30 pm Eastern Time. If you are an ABA member, be sure to take advantage of attending this timely and topical CLE.

There may not be a bigger “industry” in law firm marketing and business development circles than the continued growth and proliferation of rankings and ratings. The Rules of Professional Conduct and ethics opinions have tried in vain to develop workable ethics barriers and parameters, however, the impact on the profession is significant–from the time and money spent to the permissible uses for promotion. Learn about ratings and their methodologies, and the ethical considerations voiced by various state and national bar associations. From long-time services by Martindale, American Lawyer Media, Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers; to relative newcomers such as Chambers USA and Avvo; and the thousands of other companies that have recognized there is a lot of money to be made in the business of lawyer rankings. Are they helping buyers of legal services make more informed decisions or hindering the profession as a whole?

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best-usn-rankings-gray.jpgLast month, at the invitation of Joshua Peck and the Law Firm Media Professionals organization, I attended their monthly program in New York City, at the offices of Dechert. As always, the topic of “Surveys and Rankings” attracted significant interest (and conversation) from the many law firm communications and public relations people in Manhattan.

On the panel were Reena SenGupta, representing “FT Innovative Lawyers” for the Financial Times; Anne Szustek, Deputy Editor of the Benchmark Litigation survey, run by Euromoney; and Steven Naifeh, President of Best Lawyers, which also publish the US News & World Reports “Best Law Firm” rankings.

The audience questions (and skepticism) reminded me that nerves are still raw when seeing the friction that exists between these businesses and the law firm professionals that choose to participate in them (or not). Everyone continues to preach “separation of church and state” as it relates to the editorial evaluation versus the advertising opportunities that are offered. I made particular note of the Benchmark folks reminding everyone that they are journalists and researchers, not lawyers. That just makes me give second thought as to how good they can be in evaluating the leaders in litigation. I can’t say that either FT or Benchmark did anything to increase credibility, based on their presentations. If you buy in, you are probably still in. But if not, I doubt opinion shifted at all.

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If you are a PA lawyer, and it feels like you’ve been hearing me deliver marketing ethics CLE hours for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute for more than a decade now, it is because you have. My very first ethics CLE ever was given in Philly, New York and Houston in the summer of 1997. I opened with some lame canned joke involving Morgan Lewis and domain names. Trust me, I’ve gotten better. But the even weaker handout is now a collector’s item. I still have an original (see “Hoarders” and related illnesses).

Each year, I change the focus and try to cover hot topics, and changing rules, as they relate to areas of law marketing ethics. Quite honestly, some years my “show” (as I call it) is better than others. Last year’s focus on ethics of social media was very well received. But this year’s focus on ratings, rankings and reviews might be the best one yet. I mean, really, who does not debate the value, interest and impact on the multi-zillion dollar “sell stuff to attorneys” industry?

I’ve written and spoken on the rankings & ratings subject for many years, including multiple ABA Annual Meetings, as a focus of the ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference, for PBI and in at least a half dozen publications. I’m not sure if the publishers of these companies will tell you they love me or hate me (it is probably a mix, leaning more toward the negative), but it is a market that continues to fascinate. This holds true in my marketing roles, in my ethics roles, and certainly in speaking as a leader in law practice management circles.