With the Best Lawyers® awards embargo date quickly approaching, now is an excellent time to review your law firm’s website to ensure awards and honors are listed correctly. In addition to complying with the applicable local state bar advertising rules, it’s also important to adhere to each award’s publication guidelines. Below are a few of the most common legal industry awards, along with exactly how you should list them on any advertising materials, including your law firm website.
The publication’s official guidelines prohibit you from claiming in any way that you are a “best lawyer” by virtue of receiving this award. Instead, you must indicate you are “recognized by Best Lawyers® or in The Best Lawyers in America©.” Additionally, the registered trademark and/or copyright symbol should be included in the first mention, while all following mentions only require the text to be italicized.
If you also received a “Lawyer of Year” award, the approved terminology includes the following variations:
- Joe Smith was named the Best Lawyers®2019 Personal Injury Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Houston.
- Michelle Jones received the Best Lawyers®2019 Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Defendants “Lawyer of the Year” award in Denver.
- Harry Thompson was recognized by Best Lawyers®as the 2019 Insurance Law “Lawyer of the Year” award winner in Dallas.
Best Lawyers provides an excellent set of publication guidelines here for further information.
As with the limitations on claiming you are a “best lawyer,” you similarly cannot proclaim you are a “Super Lawyer.” Instead, you can say an attorney was “selected to,” “included in,” or “recognized by.”
Variations of acceptable verbiage include:
- Joe Smith was included in this year’s Texas Super Lawyers list.
- Michelle Jones was selected to the 2019 Florida Super Lawyers list.
- Harry Thompson was recognized by Thomson Reuters in the latest Colorado Super Lawyers list.
Super Lawyers does not require any type of registered trademark or copyright symbol when listing its awards in text format, and should only be italicized when referring to the magazine itself. While Super Lawyers doesn’t have publication guidelines on its website, the downloadable promotional kit includes a section with relevant information.
In Texas, the attorney advertising rules require the inclusion of the issuing organization along with the award. Therefore, you must include “by Thomson Reuters” when listing these awards in your law firm’s marketing materials (e.g. “Joe Smith was included in the 2019 Texas Super Lawyers by Thompson Reuters list”).
Martindale-Hubbell offers a peer-rated endorsement of one’s skills as a lawyer. Once a lawyer achieves a certain level of recognition, the recognition carries over from year to year. Martindale-Hubbell does require the use of certification marks, including the following:
- AV Preeminent®
- Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM
- Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM
The group has additional requirements, including either a reference explaining the rating OR a link to a webpage maintained by Martindale-Hubbell. As well, Martindale-Hubbell does not allow use or mention of the award on political pieces, advertisements, or campaign materials.
For further details, check out Martindale-Hubbell’s use guidelines here.
Be Sure To Check Your State Bar Advertising Rules
Keep in mind that despite the American Bar Association creating and expounding Model Rules for Professional Conduct, each state has its own governing attorney advertising rules. Certain states require even more information than what is listed above. For example, the State Bar of Texas requires the year the award was issued for all mentions; if the attorney won for multiple years, all years must be listed. Florida, on the other hand, does not require the express publication of a year if the advertisement is disseminated in the same year the award is issued. Make sure to check your state bar’s advertising rules to ensure you are in compliance.