The “Big Three” Lawyer Credentials to Advertise

If you are the recipient of a Martindale-Hubbell rating, a listing in the Best Lawyers of America book/website, or you took the time and effort to become certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, you need to brag a little!

Remember that these 3 credentials are not held by every lawyer and not every attorney has a chance of obtaining them.
Unlike many of those "top-rated lawyer lists" that only require you to fill out a form and pay a fee, these ratings and certifications are only given to lawyers who have worked to earn them.

The Martindale-Hubbell rating is given by selection committees only, you can't request to be rated, and the lawyer being rated has no knowledge of who is rating them, so they can't sway the votes. Likewise, Best Lawyers in America requires a new member to be nominated by a current member.

Becoming certified by the NBTA requires not only recommendation by your peers, but also continuing legal education, verifiable court experience, and an exam. These are the kinds of credentials you should be touting - ones that you have to earn with more than the ability to pull out your credit card.

Selective advertising of your credentials and certifications is important when developing your lawyer advertising materials.
My article on the best lawyer certifications to advertise explains the big 3 you should focus on (if you have them) and what kind of lawyer advertising to avoid. 

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I agree with your main point. It should be noted that client ratings are available on and, but they are independant from Peer ratings.
by David Knott July 7, 2010 at 06:12 AM
Thanks for pointing that out, David. It's true that the phrase "selection committee" is a bit misleading in my post - it's not a select panel of judges evaluating you for a Martindale-Hubbell rating. Just as you said, it's a randomized selection of peers that are asked to provide their opinions on your legal prowess. Client ratings also play heavily into your overall A/V Rating, so it's a great testament to your peer and client conduct. The main point I am trying to make here is that ratings like the Martindale-Hubbell rating are contingent on more than just a law degree and a credit card payment. These are ratings you have to earn by your good reputation, outstanding legal service, and continuing contributions to the world of legal matters. For anyone interested on the full meat and potatoes of how Martindale-Hubbell ratings are established and given, you can check out their website:
by Ben Glass July 5, 2010 at 12:24 PM
Your information regarding Martindale Hubbell is incorrect. The ratings are by peers, not selection committee. An attorney can submit a list of peers to instigate a rating. A random sample from that list will be contacted. It doesn't guarantee a rating, but it does guarantee a rating review with those who have first hand recent experience of your legal ability. Lastly, an attorney is not supposed to contact those who he/she has submitted to "sway" their votes. Let's remember rating were not intended to be a marketing tool. They were intend to give you, an attorney, a trustworthy way of evaluating another attorneys when you need to refer a case. They are now helping consumers evaluate lawyers as well. For more than 130 years, Martindale Hubbell Peer Rating have been the most trust resource as it is based on the ethics of the participating attorneys. I cite The Virginia State Bar's 2009-2010 Professional Guidelines, Rules 7.2, comment 1:The public benefit derived from advertising depends upon the usefulness of the information provided to the community or to the segment of the community to which it is directed. To achieve these objectives, advertising must not be false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive. Peer Ratings are the most reliable resource because attorneys' adherence to their bar rules regarding (ethical)advertising.
by David Knott June 29, 2010 at 08:01 AM
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