Best Lawyers? The Top Lawyers? Buyer Beware*

Best Lawyers? The Top Lawyers? Buyer Beware*

Have you been looking for a lawyer to handle your case? Would you like to find the best lawyers, the top lawyers? Wouldn’t it be great to hire a lawyer who has been named “Top X” (X is whatever number sounds impressive)? Mega? Nationally ranked? Premiere? Elite? Best?  Some other catchy, impressive title on a cool logo on their website? Think again.


If you are looking for a lawyer, and you see that kind of “honor”, look behind it, PLEASE.  You could be setting yourself up for a big mistake.  Please don’t be suckered by “Top X” type of advertising.  You are dealing with serious issues in your life.  You could be stuck with whatever happens for the rest of your life.

Professional Organizations Can Be Legitimate

Don’t confuse “Top X” claims with organizational memberships.  Promoting one’s self as a member of the National College for DUI Defense or Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association states the fact you are a member of the organizations and strongly implies you are actively engaged in that field of law.  It makes NO claim of special expertise or elevation above other attorneys like the “Top X” types of displays.

Just How Can Lawyers Get “Honors” Like Being “Best” and “Top”?

If I wanted to put logos of being Top 10, Top 25, Top 100, and many other “honors” on my website, I could do so by simply making payment; I don’t even need a sponsoring attorney to suggest I’m worthy.  All it would take is a few hundred dollars per “honor” per year.  As long as I am willing to pay, I can claim distinction as a big shot, even when I’ve never handled that type of case.

Which is more likely: 1) I’m receiving the same invitations sent to thousands of lawyers from arbitrary lists from entities trying to make money; or 2) some anonymous lawyers are nominating me for all these “Top X” “honors”, even when I’ve never handled cases in some of those fields.  Seriously?

Follow The Money

Texas has over 100,000 licensed attorneys.  If even 2% of lawyers pay $300/year, that totals over $600,000 in revenue.  That same 2% may be willing to buy more than one designation as “Top X” in other areas of law, so revenue could double or triple.

Don’t believe me?  Look up these organizations yourself and see what murky qualifications they have for membership.  If there is a fee, I see no reason to view it as anything other than a profit-driven enterprise, because the primary reason to belong is to be able to claim some bogus, elevated status. Buyer beware.  One lawyer even posted on social media about his dog receiving a written an opportunity to be listed as a “Top X” lawyer in his field.

It Has Real Life Consequences

I believe people looking for lawyers are being fooled, and it’s just wrong.  Real-life consequences are part of this wrong.  Some of the most popularly used accolades are largely just paid memberships/subscriptions without any real merit-based justification for the title.  Some lists are so long, they undermine the very notion of exclusivity.  Lawyers want to look distinguished online when people are searching for a lawyer to hire, and it can give them an advantage to be named “Top X”.

Please Be Careful

I am contacted virtually every week telling me I’ve been “selected”, “named”, and “nominated” for absolutely meaningless titles stating I’m somehow better than almost everyone else.  I often see these accolades prominently displayed by other lawyers throughout the state on their websites, letterhead, and business cards, as if they did anything noteworthy for the “honors”.  In fact, some lawyers list several such “honors”, and I wonder whether they were honestly fooled by the flattery or are consciously trying to fool others.  Neither is acceptable.

If you are looking for an attorney, please don’t fall for top 100 or other such nonsense.  If it’s a true honor claiming some special ability or status as an elite attorney in the field, payment won’t be required to get it, and it won’t be a long list.  It won’t be a business enterprise in existence for the real purpose is selling “honors”.

It Had To Be Said

I don’t like being critical of other attorneys, especially if they are in my field.  While I was considering writing this blog, I amassed a stack of solicitation letters I received recently and just let the emails pile up in my inboxes. I get more than one “Top X” offer every week in my mail, as well as more by email.  Last week, I got three emails and two more letters, all telling me I was premiere, elite, top X, etc., claiming I was “nominated” or “selected” for the distinction.  They come to every mailing address and email address I have by the bushel, and I usually just promptly trash them.  I wanted them to pile high to upset me enough to write this piece. I am loathe to criticize other lawyers, but there is just no reasonable justification to participate in these shams.  Please do not be fooled by them.

*Note: I am not specifying any exact entities by using the words in the titles.  They are used generically.  The reader will have to look into the specifics of each claim for herself/himself because there are many “organizations” like those I described.

UPDATE: It’s no surprise to me, but to illustrate the point further, I received yet another solicitation in the mail the very first business day after I published this article.  I’ve cropped identifying information of the sender off the following photo: