April 27, 2015
A significant source of revenue for magazines such as Texas Monthly and D Magazine, for example, is the “Super Lawyers” rankings, “Best Lawyers in Dallas” rankings, and similar. We have been listed in such rankings before. J. Mark Perrin was ranked for several years as a “Rising Star” by Texas Monthly. Doug Perrin has been listed as one of the best personal injury lawyers in Dallas by D Magazine and the firm was recognized in a publication called “Texas’ Best Lawyers” which is for lawyers who have received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, the highest possible ranking.
There is apparently no way to delist oneself once you are listed. We do not, however, purchase advertisements in D Magazine and Texas Monthly to congratulate and applaud ourselves. It does not require much insight to realize that the publications that rank lawyers in this way are doing it to make money from advertisements. That, alone, taints the entire ranking process.
Beyond the obvious financial motive both of the magazines and the lawyers who buy the advertisements, the entire issue of rankings should be distasteful to lawyers. The criteria by which lawyers are included always seems to be a bit murky, but generally either a lawyer is included because other lawyers voted for him or some panel of lawyers chooses who gets to be included. Either system is greatly flawed.
For those publications which require votes, the matter can easily become something like a school student council or homecoming queen election – you vote for me or my lawyer and I will vote for you or your lawyer. Only the lawyers vote. The rankings are dominated by lawyers from big law firms, perhaps because those firms trade off voting for the other lawyers so that everybody gets their fair share of “Super Lawyers,” and because there are more of them. For the panel type proceeding, who are the people on the panel? What is their specialty? What motive do they have to include certain lawyers and not to include others?
Another huge flaw in the whole ranking process is that clients and judges are not consulted at all. Lawyers may be selecting other lawyers with whom they have never had a case or who they do not even know.
Some of the best lawyers we know are not included in these rankings, lawyers like Dan Perez and John Lewis in Dallas, Kyle Whitaker in Fort Worth, and Gary Lott in Arlington. Do not rely on these rankings. By and large, they may be bought and paid for or be based on a flawed methodology. Lawyers feel like they have to participate and try to be listed in order to be recognized, and that’s a shame. Unless and until lawyers as a group rise up and stop participating in these rankings and buying advertisements to support these publications, the public will continue to be misled by them and some lawyers will get a good reputation without having actually accomplished anything in their practice or for their clients.