If this post were a tweet it would say: Are lawyer awards worth anything? No.
But I’m going to give a longer explanation as to why.
The marketplace for legal services is overcrowded, with no shortage of attorneys. It’s no wonder why lawyers feel the need to distinguish themselves from their peers. Lawyers can easily discuss their educational background and experience for recognition, but for a perspective client this may not be enough to stand out. Applying for a variety of attorney awards and submitting to be listed in attorney rankings is a way an attorney can get a leg up in the marketplace because for many consumers, perception is reality. Naturally, with any profession, there are awards and rankings for lawyers that are prestigious, worthy and are based on an attorney’s good works. But also, with any other profession, there are the rankings that have no merit or meaning to the works of an attorney.
The biggest sounding of these is being awarded as a Super Lawyer. While many worthy attorneys are designated as Super Lawyers, the designation does not necessarily mean that the Super Lawyers are any better than other lawyers who do not have this designation or any good at all. It seems, as far as I can tell, that the award of a Super Lawyer is really more of a “social” title. The Super Lawyer designation is primarily based upon how many votes an attorney receives from other attorneys, making it more of a popularity contest, or by how extensively an attorney has engaged in a website operated by the ranking organization. There are basic qualifications of those applying for these ranking, but otherwise the vetting process appears to be lacking and the award is used more as a marketing tool for lawyers.
They of course aren’t unique. There are tons of other awards that sound like Super or Best or Top, etc. Some of them only give you the award if you pay a fee.
It’s a natural feeling to want to feel good about oneself and what better way than to receive an accolade. Most are happy to have been selected for something, but few lawyers consider the vetting process when considering if an accolade is worthy of praise. There will always be organizations profiting off the underlying desire to be recognized and awarded.
The idea of organizations profiting off the “ego industry” is nothing short of new. These organizations feed on people’s need for feeling accomplished even at an early age. Some will ‘recognize’ an elementary student’s literary work just to turn around to sale their ‘published’ work for an outrageous fee to their parents. High School students are frequently ‘selected’ in a list of accomplished high school students. Just another way to go after one’s wallet. Even college students will receive letters claiming to be selected for an exclusive honor society, only to have to pay fees or dues to the society.
Many of us have encountered at some point of our life an “ego accolade”. Lawyers are just as easily targeted, perhaps due to their need for prestige. Websites and companies that offer accolades, rating and reviews often encourage lawyers to reference their recognition or ratings when advertising. This may help a lawyer stand apart from other lawyers, but really it is just lining the pockets of these organizations.
The bottom line for you is that you shouldn’t hire a lawyer because of an award or a fancy looking website. Hire them because of their track record, the type of case you have and because you connect with them.