Self-Authentication by Lawyers
We have been blessed at Casper & de Toledo. This is the 30th Anniversary of the formation of our firm. We have enjoyed our share of success on behalf of our clients. Make no mistake about it, we practice law for a living, but we still feel the need to sink our teeth into cases because clients have been wronged, even when it doesn’t appear that a case will be very profitable. It’s just too difficult to permit bad actors and insurance companies to get away with reprehensible conduct. If you read our biographies (Victoria de Toledo; Stewart Casper), you will see that we have achieved a fair degree of professional success. Not only have we obtained sizeable jury verdicts and settlements in often complex cases, but we have also been leaders in our profession – having held elected office in professional organizations, written for professional publications and lectured at professional educational gatherings.
Historically, the legal profession had a single legal directory, Martindale-Hubbell. Martindale is a place where the profession and the public alike could turn to find an attorney in particular community or one who practiced a particular specialty. When I started practicing law in 1978, Martindale-Hubbell published its directory as a set of enormous hardcover books that listed law firms and lawyers not only in the United States but in foreign jurisdictions as well. The directory also included, and to this day includes, a rating system reflecting peer ratings with grades – A, B, & C – for each lawyer, followed almost all the time by a “v” to signify whether the lawyer was considered to be ethical. No more heavy books now; we’re in the digital age.
The 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White) is in its 23rd year, and it is the next prominent publication rating system for lawyers. It’s the most exclusive rating system for lawyers in the United States, although there are some super exclusive clubs. Next came Super Lawyers. Likely a take on Super Heroes – most Super Lawyers do not dress like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man or Wonder Woman. And while superheroes are depicted as fighting crime and evil, protecting the public and combatting Super Villains, no offense, but it is difficult to conceive of a trust and estates lawyer as a superhero. Moreover, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for us, we cannot embrace that lawyers defending corporate wrongdoers including insurance companies are superheroes, although they may qualify as Super Villains or even Super Lawyers.
Stamford Personal Injury Lawyer
For personal injury lawyers, there is also the Million Dollar Advocates Forum®. Membership qualifications include obtaining one or more jury verdicts, settlements or arbitration awards of $1,000,000 or more. Then there is the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum® for which the qualifications include one or more jury verdicts, settlements or arbitration awards of $2,000,000 or more. When the owner of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum® gilded the lily with the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®, we decided that we were done. It was just an income producing scheme that seemed unnecessary because, over time, a $1,000,000 case had morphed to the equivalence of $2,000,000. I thought to myself –“what’s next – the $5 million dollar case?” Moreover, achieving a specific level of compensation is a relatively meaningless accomplishment. A $2 million dollar settlement might be an injustice if a lawyer capitulated under the threat of a trial in a case that was worth $5 million. And a $2 million dollar verdict might be an accomplishment or it might reflect the failure to achieve full compensation because the trial did not go well. As you can see, results-oriented criteria for admission to a particular “club” might be misleading.
More recently there has been a proliferation of other schemes by which lawyers can self-authenticate and promoters can capitalize. In the last year we have been solicited to join the roll of Best Law Firms of America®, Rue Ratings Best Attorneys of America®, Top American Lawyers©, America’s Top 100 Attorneys®, Lawyers of Distinction® and Elite Lawyers of America©. The characterizations about “top 100” or the “top 10%” are mystifying because there is no discernable way to objectively identify any such group. While it may appear flattering to be solicited to join these fledgling organizations, the individual accolades of peers closer to home who serve as references for Martindale-Hubbell, The Best Lawyers in America, and the National Board of Trial Advocacy are more meaningful than solicitations from Alabama, California, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. Obviously, there are many businesses exploiting the endless capacity and desire of lawyers to self-authenticate. It seems endless, expensive and even misleading.
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By Stewart Casper. Posted March 8, 2017