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Maybe your lawyer is not so “Super” after all!

By Daniel Amos

I frequently comment about how people should, and should not, pick their personal injury lawyer. There is so much hype, exaggeration, and downright dishonesty that it is hard to know who to believe when you see a recommendation, title, or designation for a lawyer.

I was recently reading something on Reddit where a question was asked about the title or designation you often see lawyers display which says they are a “Super Lawyer” or a “Rising Star”.

In a nutshell, the comments seem to indicate this is all a bunch of claptrap! Here are a few things that were said about the titles “Super Lawyer” and “Rising Star”:

One lawyer said: “It means (a) someone thought of you and nominated you, and (b) they will never stop trying to sell you a plaque. I do mention it in my bio, but mostly because everyone else seems to do it when they get it. I'm not buying a damn plaque though”.

Another one said: “It means nothing to other lawyers. I got a nomination literally 2 months after being sworn in. Clients will not understand this though, so if you’re in a practice area that will be marketing you a lot, it may be a good investment.”

I loved this one: “If you are in a practice area like family law, criminal law, or personal injury, it can be a good marketing tool. Clients are routinely impressed by these “awards”.”

And this one was an eye opener: “I have been nominated as a super lawyer despite being a 3L” (meaning this supposed Super Lawyer is still in law school!)

And this one sadly says it all: “I’m apparently one of the top IP lawyers in the United States and for $300, I can buy a plaque that says so, and put that impressive statistic on my website. In 20 years of practice, I have never taken a single IP case and I know literally nothing about IP law. I don’t know the difference between a copyright and a trademark. I figure that makes this auspicious accomplishment all the more impressive. But not $300 worth of impressive”

I went to the Super Lawyers website and to me, they seem to be a “fake” lawyer referral service. Their website says they want to help you FIND A LAWYER. I have written on this issue before, including in my article How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer for Beginners.

Proceed "At Your Own Risk"

Super Lawyers themselves don’t seem very confident in their own website or the listings on it as they state on their website that, “You use the content, information, and services on this website at your own risk” …and then in all caps, they state that you rely on their information “AT YOUR OWN RISK”. Not a resounding endorsement!

There is a great article in New York Legal Ethics that talks about the massive money and other resources that the legal advertising industry has put into fighting bar associations and others who attempt to protect the public from misleading ads and hype about lawyers, but in the end, it seems like the forces of big money advertising have won the day. If you want to be a super lawyer, you can apparently buy that designation to fool people into thinking you are the best in the business.

So the bottom line is to use your common sense. Don’t believe the hype. I am always surprised that so many people are fooled into thinking that if they hire a lawyer who says they are a super lawyer they have the right lawyer. That is simply not true.

My advice is to do your research. Look at reviews. Ask people who have used a particular lawyer in the past. Contact your state bar and contact a certified lawyer referral service. That in my opinion is your best and safest bet to find a really “super” lawyer who is right for your specific case. If you need help, contact me and I’ll do whatever I can to help you.

Daniel Amos Attorney since 1985 Founder of Higher Legal