Qualifying material for Professional Organizations: SuperLawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, Litigator Awards, National Association of Distinguished Counsel, Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum & The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100, Rue Ratings Best Attorneys of America
The following are the criteria used in selecting attorneys for recognition as Super Lawyers:
Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent 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 patented selection process involves three basic steps: creation of the candidate pool; evaluation of candidates by the research department; and peer evaluation by practice area.
Lawyers enter the candidate pool by being formally nominated by a peer or if identified by the research department during the research process.
Once a year, we invite lawyers in each state to nominate the top attorneys they’ve personally observed in action. Lawyers may nominate attorneys in their own firm, but these nominations count only if each in-firm nomination is matched by at least one out-firm nomination.
Each nomination carries a point value and out-firm nominations have a greater point value than in-firm nominations. Lawyers cannot nominate themselves, and must limit their nominations to others who practice in the same state.
Our procedures and database have several safeguards that prevent lawyers from “gaming” the system. For example, we track who nominates whom. This helps us detect any excessive “back-scratch” nominations (lawyers nominating each other) and “block nominations” (where members of the same law firm all cast identical nominations). We also prohibit lawyers from engaging in “campaigning” or solicitation of nominations from other lawyers.
While important, the nomination phase is simply the first step in our process. It puts lawyers on our radar for further research and evaluation, and awards points in our rating system. But we limit the value of those points so that no matter how many nominations one receives, it will not guarantee selection.
Our attorney-led research staff searches for lawyers who have attained certain honors, results or credentials, which indicate a high degree of peer recognition or professional competence. For example, certification as a specialist in a particular area of practice, or admission to prestigious colleges or academies, e.g., The American College of Trial Lawyers. The staff identifies these credentials by reviewing a proprietary list of database and online sources, including national and local legal trade publications.
During the research process, we discover outstanding lawyers who have been overlooked in the nomination process. These may include: lawyers with national litigation practices who rarely appear in the courts of their home jurisdiction; lawyers in smaller firms or from smaller communities; and lawyers practicing in less visible or highly specialized practice areas.
Throughout the year, readers, clients, marketing directors and attorneys who are not eligible to formally nominate (that is, actively licensed to practice in the same state as the nominee) send us names of lawyers we should consider for inclusion. Though no points are awarded, we add these lawyers to the candidate pool for further research and evaluation.
Our research department evaluates each lawyer in the candidate pool based on these 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement:
- Representative clients
- Special licenses/certifications
- Position within law firm
- Bar and/or professional activity
- Pro bono and community service
- Scholarly lectures/writings
- Education/employment background
- Other outstanding achievements
These indicators are not treated equally; some have a higher maximum point value than others.
The third step of the selection process is peer evaluation by practice area, also known as the “blue ribbon review.” The candidates in each practice area with the highest point totals from steps one and two above are asked to serve on a blue ribbon panel. The panelists are then provided a list of candidates from their practice areas to review, rating them on a scale of one to five.
Candidates are grouped into four firm-size categories. Those with the highest point totals from each category are selected. This means solo and small firm lawyers are compared with other solo and small firm lawyers, and large firm lawyers are compared with other large firm lawyers. Five percent of the total lawyers in the state are selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers.
The research staff checks each candidate’s standing with the local licensing authority. Each candidate is asked to aver that they have never been subject to disciplinary or criminal proceedings.
Final Internet searches are performed on each candidate to ensure there are no outstanding matters that would reflect adversely on the lawyer. We also contact each lawyer to ensure accuracy of all published information.
The final published list represents no more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state. The lists are published annually in state and regional editions of Super Lawyers Magazines and in inserts and special advertising sections in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers. All attorneys selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers, regardless of year, can be found on SuperLawyers.com.
For questions on the research process, please email [email protected].
The Rising Stars selection process
The selection process for the Rising Stars list is the same as the Super Lawyers selection process, with one exception: to be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. All attorneys first go through the Super Lawyers selection process. Those who are not selected to the Super Lawyers list, but who meet either one of the Rising Stars eligibility requirements, go through the Rising Stars selection process. While up to five percent of the lawyers in the state are named to Super Lawyers, no more than 2.5 percent are named to the Rising Stars list.
The following are the criteria used in selecting attorneys for recognition in Martindale-Hubbell:
Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ reflect a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating. A threshold number of responses is required to achieve a 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.
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)
The numeric ratings range may coincide with the appropriate Certification Mark:
- AV Preeminent® (4.5-5.0) – AV Preeminent® is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
- BV Distinguished® (3.0-4.4) – BV Distinguished® is an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience. A widely respected mark of achievement, it differentiates a lawyer from his or her competition.
- Rated (1.0-2.9) – The Peer Review Rated designation demonstrates that the lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing.
Areas of Practice
Martindale-Hubbell uses a specific practice area list in the review process to help ensure that all lawyers are rated upon equivalent practice areas, regardless of how individual lawyers choose to articulate their area of expertise. This allows users of ratings to compare and contrast lawyers with a specific area of practice. The Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ area of practice list is based on user behavior, research on emerging areas of law, and other forms of legal research. Martindale-Hubbell updates the list regularly to reflect the changing needs of the legal industry.
Feedback and Comments
Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ allow reviewers to provide feedback on the lawyer under review. Feedback is displayed anonymously in conjunction with the review results. Lawyers are allowed to place a one-time comment next to any of the feedback. Martindale-Hubbell subscribers are able to highlight two peer feedback comments and position them at the top of their ratings display. Peer Review feedback will be archived after two years.
The following are the criteria used in selecting attorneys for recognition with Litigator Awards:
Judging Methodology – Most Respected & Openly Judged
The straightforward “Performance-Oriented Rating Methodology” used to judge Nominees makes the 2015 Litigator Awards™ perhaps the most rigorous and openly judged Trial-Law Competition in the nation. Reflecting a firm’s experience, skill and ability within specific areas of expertise, the Awards provide prospective clientele, as well as referring professionals and their trusted clientele, an objective means of evaluating Trial Lawyers – enabling a more informed hiring or referral decision.
The Nomination & Certification process is conducted annually on a rolling basis across a range of core Practice Specialties. Independent audit and research teams undertake an exhaustive vetting process to screen and evaluate Nominees based on their demonstrated litigation achievement in Jury Trials, Trials before the Court, and/or Appellate Practice. This proprietary performance-based approach is reliable and unbiased, as it relies strictly on actual, verified Verdict & Settlement dollar outcome data.
To ensure a constant adherence to the exacting standards of the Board, the selection of Award Recipients is designed to be dynamic and to change annually to reflect the latest “Verdicts & Settlements”.
National Association of Distinguished Counsel
The following are the criteria used in selecting attorneys for recognition by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel:
NADC’s Selection Process
The National Association of Distinguished Counsel employs an objective, rigorous, multi-stage selection process. The result is the identification of the finest lawyers in the country, named “Nation’s Top Attorneys.”
Candidates are identified either by nomination or an in house research team. Nominations are accepted from members of NADC, fellow attorneys, and current or former clients.
Once prospective candidates are identified, a lengthy vetting process is employed by NADC researchers. The information considered in this review process is sourced from publicly available information, including attorneys’ websites, public profiles, client reviews, and case results. Specifically, the research team evaluates factors which include, but are not limited to the following: firm profile and reputation, years of practice, education, training, trial experience, case outcomes, peer endorsements, client reviews, professional awards, professional memberships, leadership in legal organizations, community involvement, disciplinary status, and other noteworthy achievements. Multiple factors are considered by the NADC research team in evaluating its potential members.
A blue ribbon panel of attorneys studies the results provided by the NADC research team. These attorneys, having achieved podium status in their own right by multiple independent organizations, separate and apart from the NADC, are specially positioned with the perspective and knowledge in selecting “Nation’s Top Attorneys.” While considering the information presented to them, they make careful determinations as to who among their peers possesses the background, accomplishments, and prowess to serve as an example to other attorneys. The result is a list of attorneys who are considered truly elite.
A judicial review board, led by a group of former judges, weighs in on the final candidates. The purpose of this phase is to ensure that those who are named “Nation’s Top Attorneys” have epitomized the ideals of the legal profession. They finalize the process of selecting the attorneys whose stellar reputation and exceptional performance exemplify only the highest standards. Those invited as members of the NADC must exhibit qualities becoming of an Officer of the Court, and have also demonstrated admirable character and virtue in the course of their practice of law.
Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
The following are the criteria used in selecting attorneys for recognition in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum:
Membership Qualifications & Application Procedure
Since the Million Dollar Advocates Forum was founded in 1993, membership has been based upon strict and objective standards. Each applicant is required to complete a detailed application demonstrating that he or she has met the basic qualification of having acted as Principal Counsel (as that term is defined in the membership application) in one or more cases which resulted in a final judgment (not subject to appeal or modification), award or settlement in favor of his or her client in the amount of one million dollars or more. In 2007, in response to requests from members, the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum was added with regard to cases of two million dollars or more.
Applicants certify, as members of the Bar, that the information contained in the application is true. It is the policy of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum that any false statement of a material fact in the application would represent an attempt by an applicant to hold himself or herself out as possessing experience and qualifications which were not truthful and accurate and, as such, would constitute a serious act of professional misconduct which would warrant disciplinary action by the Bar.
Each application is reviewed by experienced trial counsel. Additional or supporting information may be required, and applicants who do not clearly qualify are denied membership. If membership is denied, fees paid by the applicant are refunded.
Review of membership applications is generally completed within two weeks of receipt of application and any additional or supporting information required. If approved for membership, an email notification is sent to the new member advising of such approval and that the member may proceed to hold himself or herself out as a member in any manner consistent with rules of professional conduct applicable in the jurisidction(s) in which the member practices (including use of the membership logos available on this website). Within several weeks thereafter, a certificate of membership will be mailed to the new member, together with a press release announcing membership. The press release is sent directly to the member for distribution as may be appropriate in the member’s discretion.
There is a one-time fee for application, certification and membership. Members may thereafter hold themselves out as members, in any manner consistent with rules of professional conduct applicable in the jurisidction(s) in which the member practices, for so long as he or she remains a member in good standing of the Bar. There are no further or annual dues or fees to maintain membership.
The details of membership qualifications have been amended or expanded several times since 1993 in order to address various membership issues which have arisen from different case situations. Such amendments have always been made within the original policy of applying strict and objective standards to membership.
Qualifications – Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Essential qualifications are stated in the Membership Applications as follows:
1. Applicant must be a current member of the Bar in good standing.
2. Applicant must have acted as principal counsel in one or more of the following:
a) A court or jury trial in which the applicant’s client(s) received a verdict and entered final judgment in the amount of one million dollars or more. Summary adjudication or default proceedings do not qualify. The case must be final and not subject to appeal or other possible modification.
b) A binding arbitration proceeding, where evidence was presented, in which the applicant’s client(s) received a final arbitrator’s award in the amount of one million dollars or more.
c) Negotiation of a final settlement in which the applicant’s client(s) received the sum of one million dollars or more.
3. Whether by trial, arbitration or settlement, if the award was by periodic payments or structured settlement, the one million dollar amount must apply to the economic present value of the award, not the overall payout amount.
4. Applicants must provide adequate information as to case identity to allow for verification. In most cases, certification will proceed upon the declarations of the applicant attorney. It is understood that there are confidential settlements which do not allow for case identification. In such cases, the applicant may provide a general description of the case, certifying such description as true.
The term “principal counsel” is intended to include the one or more attorneys who were primarily in charge of and responsible for the preparation, management and settlement/ arbitration/ trial of a qualifying case. It is not necessarily limited to one attorney, nor is it limited to lead (i.e. “first chair”) trial counsel. It is recognized that the responsibility for, and management of, a complex case often involves a team of attorneys who serve as co-principal counsel with different responsibilities. However, it is not intended to include an attorney simply because he or she worked on the case, referred the case or brought the case into the office. It is presumed that an applicant who states that he or she was “principal counsel” in a qualifying case has clarified that status (as defined herein) with any co-counsel and that there is agreement among all co-counsel that the applicant acted in the capacity of principal counsel.
Additional clarification of qualification issues appears at the Membership Information page of this website as follows:
Issues Regarding Case Qualification
The Million Dollar Advocates Forum was founded in 1993 upon the basic qualification of a “trial verdict, award or settlement in the amount of One Million dollars or more”. In the process of considering applications of prospective members, issues have arisen which have required continuing refinement of qualification standards and definitions. Current definitions and standards include the following (One Million Dollar references to be read as Two Million Dollars with regard to Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum):
Qualifying settlements are often subject to confidentiality provisions. In such cases, the applicant may provide a general description of the case, certifying as a member of the Bar that such description is true. Such description must include sufficient information (to the extent allowed by the terms of the settlement) as to case identity, jurisdiction, case type and terms to identify a specific case, even if not by name. For example: “Los Angeles Superior Court, 1999; medical malpractice, failure to diagnose breast cancer; Doe vs Roe Hospital, et al.; settled for $2 Million (present cash value)”, or, if terms prevent stating the amount, “settled for payment of One Million Dollars or more (present cash value)”. We prefer to have as much specificity as possible. If the information provided is stated to be confidential, we will not divulge it absent legal obligation to do so.
Entry Of Final Judgment Or Final Settlement
There must be an entered final judgment or a final (present cash value) settlement in the amount of One Million Dollars or more. A verdict which does not result in a final entered judgment (or a settlement) of One Million Dollars or more does not qualify.
Definition Of “Principal Counsel”
The term “principal counsel” is intended to include the one or more attorneys who were primarily in charge of and responsible for the preparation, management, settlement and trial of a qualifying case. It is not necessarily limited to one attorney, nor is it limited to lead (i.e. “first chair”) trial counsel. It is recognized that the responsibility for, and management of, a complex case often involves a team of attorneys who serve as co-principal counsel with different responsibilities. However, it is not intended to include an attorney simply because he or she worked on the case, referred the case or brought the case into the office. Where a case has concluded in trial (as opposed to settlement), and one of the principal counsel in the case did not actively participate in the trial, all counsel in the case should agree as to their co-principal counsel status. Therefore, it is presumed that an applicant who states that he or she was “principal counsel” in a qualifying case has clarified that status (as defined herein) with co-counsel and that there is agreement among all co-counsel that the applicant acted in the capacity of principal counsel.
Definition Of “Final Judgment”
If the qualifying case was a jury trial verdict or court trial decision, there must have been entry of a final judgment. The judgment must be: 1) entered; and, 2) no longer subject to change. The judgment is not “final” for purposes of qualification if it is subject to post-trial motions or appeal. A judgment reversed on appeal does not qualify.
Settlement After Trial (without entry of judgment)
In some cases, a trial may result in an award of One Million Dollars or more and then the case is settled post-trial and dismissed without a final judgment being entered. In such cases, regardless of the amount of the trial verdict, the amount of the ultimate settlement (One Million Dollars or more, present value) is the determining factor for qualification. Example: verdict of One Million Dollars, post-trial settlement of $750,000 with dismissal of case (and, therefore, no entry of One Million Dollar judgment) – does not qualify.
Settlement After Trial (with entry of final judgment)
If a verdict is in the amount of One Million Dollars or more, and a final judgment is entered, a case will qualify even if an ultimate settlement is reached which is less than One Million Dollars. The determining factor in such a case is the final entry of judgment in the qualifying amount. Example: verdict of One Million Dollars, with final judgment entered in such amount, and then settled for $750,000 – qualifies.
Settlement After Trial Verdict Of Less Than One Million Dollars
Regardless of the amount of a trial verdict, if the ultimate settlement is One Million Dollars or more the case qualifies based upon such settlement.
Effect Of Damage Cap Laws
Some states have statutory limits on the amount of damages which may be awarded in certain types of cases (e.g., medical malpractice claims in California, government tort claims in New Mexico) which may result in a verdict being reduced prior to entry of judgment. The final entered judgment (after any such reduction) must be in the amount of One Million Dollars or more.
Costs, Interest & Fees As Part Of Judgment
A judgment will qualify if the amount entered as the final judgment is One Million dollars or more, or if the amount actually paid (with costs, interest, fees, etc.) is One Million Dollars or more.
Summary Adjudication And Default Judgments
Judgments entered upon summary adjudications and default judgments do not qualify. Qualification as a verdict or award requires presentation of evidence at a contested trial or binding arbitration proceeding.
Award To Multiple Clients
Qualifications require that the applicant’s client(s) received a verdict, award or settlement in the amount of One Million Dollars or more. If the applicant represented more than one client in a single case and the total verdict, award or settlement to such clients was One Million dollars or more the case qualifies. However, amounts awarded to others (not the applicant’s own clients) in the same case do not apply to qualification.
Qualifications – Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
All qualifications for the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum are the same as for the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, except as follows:
- All references to “one million dollar or more” are changed to “two million dollars or more”.
- To become a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an applicant must either: a) already be a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, or b) apply concurrently for membership in both (see Application for Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum).
Membership invitations are sent only to attorneys who objectively appear to be qualified, including those whose names are proposed for membership from the report of a large case or upon nomination by a current member. Other qualified attorneys may apply for membership.
The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100
The following are the criteria used in selecting attorneys for recognition among The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100:
The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile.
The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an essential source of information, education and networking for accredited trial lawyers throughout America. Through unique and professional networking opportunities, information and CLE programs, we continually strive to give our members a competitive edge in today’s legal profession. It is the mission of The National Trial Lawyers to provide networking opportunities, advocacy training, and the highest quality educational programs for the nation’s leading trial lawyers.
Each of our distinguished Top 100 members possesses the knowledge, skill, experience and success held by only the finest and best lawyers in America. By combining resources, power, and influence, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is devoted to preserving and protecting justice for all.
Rue Ratings Best Attorneys of America
The following are the criteria used in selecting attorneys for recognition in Rue Ratings Best Attorneys of America:
An Attorney may become a member of Rue Ratings’ Best Attorneys of America as a Best Attorney “Lifetime Charter Member” or as a Best Attorney General Annual Member. An attorney at law member is highly qualified. Best Attorneys of America top lawyers are extremely respected among their peers.
“Best attorney” Lifetime Charter Members are extraordinary lawyers with an extraordinary level of legal expertise, competency, professional reputation, professionalism and ethical standards the highest standards that Rue Ratings’ Best Attorneys of America has personally invited that chosen attorney to be a Lifetime Charter Member. “Best Attorney” Lifetime Charter Membership is limited to 100 attorneys in each state.
Attorneys -The Initial Selection Process: How were you selected to be Invited as a Lifetime Charter Member –
Although we do not disclose the reasons for specific invitations to join our private organization, please note that we base our invitation decisions on a variety of factors which may include an attorney’s experience, reputation, honors, legal activities, involvement in State Bar Associations, published articles and/or other insightful information. Of course, our invitations are ultimately made on a subjective basis.
We have invited talented lawyers from a variety of legal fields. Likewise, we have invited attorneys with various years of practice as we seek a diversified charter membership base, which despite many differences, is composed of attorneys who excel at what they do. Congratulations to those invited.