Industry Awards – Who’s Giving, Who’s Getting, and Who Cares?
Industry Awards. Every industry loves to give and get them – but why would an industry award, or multiple awards, make a difference to a potential client? “Top Plaintiff Attorney” from the Daily Journal. “Board Certified Trial Attorney” by the State Bar of California. “Trial Attorney of the Year” and “Outstanding Trial Lawyer” from Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. “Super Lawyer” from SuperLawyers.com. “Top 100” from National Trial Lawyers. “AV-Preeminent” and “5 of 5 possible stars” from Martindale-Hubbell.
There are many hundreds of professional organizations, in all aspects of law, all over the world. People needing a personal injury attorney don’t necessarily know the difference between these groups and awards — which are prestigious and which are barely worth the certificate on which they’re printed. But they do know that high-quality professional organizations ascribe a certain level of third-party endorsement.
How Prospective Clients Choose an Attorney
In our opinion, there are three main resources prospective clients can utilize as they seek a lawyer:
1) Personal referrals
2) Referrals from social review sites, such as Yelp and Angie’s List
3) Referrals from professional organizations
The first two are easy for prospective clients to research themselves, and may prove extremely helpful (with cautions, of course). However, referrals from professional sources add an additional sense of legitimacy due to their inside industry knowledge.
Think of it this way. Your sister loved a movie. A new acquaintance at a cocktail party loved a different movie. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 6000 motion picture professionals (i.e., filmmakers) vote on Academy Awards for Best Picture.
So who is the “Academy” in the case of legal professionals?
Estey & Bomberger attorneys, for example, are considered consumer attorneys, or trial attorneys, those seeking accountability from those who do wrong to the plaintiffs they represent. The Academy for consumer attorneys or trial attorneys would be the local, state groups and national groups like Consumer Attorneys of San Diego (in San Diego), Consumer Attorneys of California (in California) and The National Trial Lawyers (in the USA). As you can imagine, for example, when the CASD votes on Trial Attorney of the Year, or the National Trial Lawyers votes on its Top 100, it is very high praise to the chosen attorney to have been selected from a committee of one’s peers, all of whom understand the components and qualities that make an attorney superior.
Martindale-Hubbell is a good example of an “Academy” that ranks all attorneys, not just consumer, or trial, attorneys. This 150-year veteran organization is an unequaled legal resource, its Peer Review Ratings are the gold standard for both attorneys looking to make a referral as well as individuals researching lawyers for their own needs.
Which brings us back to the most relevant question – do these industry awards matter? And if so, why?
Our feeling is that, yes, these awards matter, for the client’s benefit. The organizations giving the awards are the most neutral organizations, as they are made up of groups of peers. Votes, or reviews, from fellow attorneys are a great resource for clients, because the other attorneys are in the position of knowledge, knowing what makes another lawyer a good choice. Whereas a referral from a friend may be accurate, the friend is looking at the relationship from a bit of a disadvantage: how much did the attorney charge, how accessible was the attorney, did the attorney get the expected, or desired result? The friend is well-meaning, but it’s nice to have a professional, with a wider lens, offer an endorsement.
If you’d like to discuss industry awards, and what they mean in the context of your particular matter, we encourage you to contact us for more information.