In this post I will discuss one aspect of finding a good lawyer, specifically lawyer ratings. When looking for a lawyer many people have no idea whether their lawyer is highly rated, skilled, experienced, or well regarded by their peers. Often the only thing that potential clients have to base their decsion on is the lawyers advertising, or their web site, both of which may be self promoting. Some lawyers join lawyer referral services, such as the popular 800-doctor/lawyer referral services advertised on television and billboards. However those referral services do not normally rate lawyers on their skill, ability, ethics, or professional standards. Lawyers join such 800-referral services by simply paying a fee, similar to advertsing in the yellow pages.
There are however some well established lawyer rating organizations, one which dates back to 1868. Below I discuss the some rating systems. Before choosing a lawyer based upon their advertisements, I suggest that you review their ratings on AVVO, Martindale Hubbell, and SuperLawyers.
Launched in 2007, Avvo has developed a rating scale for lawyers based upon a proprietary algorithm. Avvo provides listings to which attorneys can submit their own profiles and histories. Avvo goes far beyond a peer-review system and only considers the opinions of other lawyers as one of many factors in evaluating an attorney. In particular, Avvo has been praised for providing a level of transparency in the legal profession that has not previously existed. For example, if a lawyer has been disciplined by the state bar association, that information is posted prominently on the lawyer's profile. Not surprisingly, this has generated great anger and even some failed lawsuits from previously-disciplined lawyers, but most members of the general public would consider this information to be relevant in evaluating a lawyer's credentials. Additionally, if a lawyer has a habit of taking money from clients without doing any meaningful work, those clients can now make their complaints publicly known very easily. And if the lawyer has answered questions posted to the Avvo site, those answers are linked from his or her Avvo profile so that people can see the kind of advice typically given out by the attorney.
Avvo gives each attorney a numerical score on a scale of 1 to 10 based on the information in that attorney's profileAccording to the website, the directory includes more than 90% of licensed attorneys in the United States. Avvo lawyer profiles are aggregated from public records provided by state bars and additional attorney licensing entities
The listings may also include client reviews, disciplinary actions, and peer endorsements. Based upon these reviews the lawyers are rated on a scale of 1 - 5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best, for the following categories: Experience, Industry Recognition, Professional Conduct.
LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell is an information services company to the legal profession that was founded in 1868. The company publishes the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which provides background information on United States lawyers and law firms. Martindale-Hubbell is owned by LexisNexis. The Martindale Directory was first published in 1868 by James B. Martindale, a lawyer and businessman.
Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings reflect a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating.
General Ethical Standards Rating
The General Ethical Standards rating denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities.
Those lawyers who meet the "Very High" criteria of General Ethical Standards can proceed to the next step in the ratings process.
Legal Ability Ratings
Legal Ability ratings indicate professional ability within a specific area of practice. Legal Ability ratings are based on performance in five key areas, rated on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest). These areas are:
•Legal Knowledge - Lawyer's familiarity with the laws governing his/her specific area of practice(s)
•Analytical Capabilities - Lawyer's creativity in analyzing legal issues and applying technical knowledge
•Judgment - Lawyer's demonstration of the salient factors that drive the outcome of a given case or issue.
•Communication Ability - Lawyer's capability to communicate persuasively and credibly
•Legal Experience - Lawyer's degree of experience in his/her specific area of practice(s)
Additional Feedback - Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings allow reviewers to provide optional Additional Feedback on the lawyer under review. Additional Feedback is displayed anonymously in conjunction with the review results to the lawyer under review
Another lawyer rating may be found under Superlawyers.
Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.
Bar associations and courts across the country have recognized the legitimacy of the Super Lawyers selection process. Most recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the findings of a Special Master assigned by the court to, among other things, examine the details of the process. In his July 2008 report, the Special Master lauded our lawyer-rating process, stating: " The Super Lawyers selection process is a comprehensive, good-faith and detailed attempt to produce a list of lawyers that have attained high peer recognition, meet ethical standards, and have demonstrated some degree of achievement in their field."
The selection procedures employed by Super Lawyers are very sophisticated, comprehensive and complex. Super Lawyers does not permit a lawyer to buy one’s way onto the list, nor is there any requirement for the purchase of any product for inclusion in the lists or any quid pro quo of any kind or nature associated with the evaluation and listing of an attorney or in the subsequent advertising of one’s inclusion in the lists.Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a rigorous, multiphase rating process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with third party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis.
The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting a lawyer, we limit the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public, i.e., lawyers in private practice and Legal Aid attorneys.
The Super Lawyers selection process involves three basic steps: creation of the candidate pool; evaluation of candidates by the research department; and peer evaluation by practice area.
For more information or for a free consultation, contact Scott and Fenderson, PA Injury and Family Law Attorneys, by calling 727-321-0099 or view our web site www.scottandfenderson.com