With the end of the year upon us, now is the time to begin thinking about the nomination deadlines for reputable best lawyer lists, and how to make sure your firm stands out once the votes are tallied.
Best Lawyers in America
The Best Lawyers in America is the dean of top attorney lists, having been published for more than 30 years. Unlike a paid listing, Best Lawyers selections are based on nominations and votes collected solely from attorneys who have been named to the list in the past.
This methodology has helped Best Lawyers become one of the most-trusted top attorney listings in the country. The high regard for Best Lawyers among general counsel and referring attorneys is one of the key reasons this list should not be ignored. It’s also worth noting that the only those firms with Best Lawyers honorees are eligible for the annual Best Law Firms list published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers.
The nomination period for the 2019 edition of Best Lawyers closes on December 1 and can be completed online here: https://www.bestlawyers.com/nominate. Attorneys who previously have been selected to Best Lawyers will then vote on the nominees between April and July of next year before the 2019 edition is released in August.
Texas Super Lawyers
One of the key listings for attorneys in the Lone Star State is the Texas Super Lawyers list published by Thomson Reuters. Since 2003, Super Lawyers has named the top 5 percent of Texas attorneys in various practice areas based on nominations and evaluations from other lawyers and independent research conducted by the publication.
Super Lawyers faced a rough patch in 2006 when the New Jersey Supreme Court barred attorneys from noting their rankings in advertisements based on the argument that such language was misleading. The dispute was resolved when the state’s high court lifted the ban in 2008 before amending the New Jersey Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct in 2009 to allow attorneys to advertise their Super Lawyers honors, which helped legitimize the listing nationwide.
The nomination deadline for the 2018 Texas Super Lawyers list is December 1, and nominations can be submitted by setting up a personal account at www.my.superlawyers.com.
The nomination process is followed by research conducted by Super Lawyers editors that will conclude early next year before honorees are notified in March. The next edition of Texas Super Lawyers is scheduled for publication on September 9, 2018.
Texas Rising Stars
The Texas Rising Stars list is published annually by Thomson Reuters as a companion to Texas Super Lawyers. This listing recognizes the state’s top attorneys who are 40 years old or younger and those who have been in practice for less than 10 years.
Texas Rising Stars honorees are selected through the same process as Super Lawyers, with the pool of honored attorneys making up 2.5 percent of the state’s lawyers as opposed to 5 percent listed in Super Lawyers.
Those attorneys who have been selected to the 2018 edition of Texas Rising Stars were notified in October, and the final list is set for publication on March 12, 2018.
For the 2019 Rising Stars list (you read that right: 2019), the Rising Stars nomination deadline is December 1, 2017, and nominations can be submitted by setting up a personal account at www.my.superlawyers.com.
D Magazine Best Lawyers in Dallas
D Magazine is Dallas’ most popular lifestyle magazine, and the release of the publication’s annual listing of the Best Lawyers in Dallas has become a much-anticipated event among the city’s top attorneys.
The November 10 nomination deadline for the 2018 Best Lawyers in Dallas list is quickly approaching, and nominations can be submitted here: https://www.dmagazine.com/assets/forms/best-lawyers-in-dallas-nomination/. Attorneys who are selected will be notified in early January.
The publishers of D Magazine select honorees based on nominations from attorneys with a valid Texas Bar number and additional review by a panel of local lawyers selected by the publication. This panel remains anonymous to “allow lawyers to speak freely about issues regarding their peers that would be known only to the legal community.”
Like Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, attorneys are not allowed to nominate themselves for the D Magazine list. Instead, they are asked to nominate two attorneys outside their firm and one attorney within their firm based on the question: “Which Dallas lawyers, of those whose work you have witnessed firsthand, would you rank among the current best. Answers may include co-counsel, lawyers who you have observed in court, and opposing counsel.”
Spreading the Word
If you or other members of your firm are named to one of these lists, Congratulations! However, simply being selected doesn’t mean the people who are most important to you and your practice will know about it.
While your selection will result in your name being printed in a listing or guide and perhaps an online directory (sometimes for a fee), the only way to make sure your target audience knows that you have named among the best is to tell them yourself. There are several ways to accomplish this, including:
- An email to colleagues, clients, and referral sources;
- Press release posted on a wire service;
- Blog post;
- Social media;
- Digital ad on a legal website, and;
- Congratulations ad in the local newspaper.
Compliance with State Bar Ad Rules
It is also important to make sure you abide by any applicable rules for lawyer advertising, such as the various provisions included in the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. Straying outside the State Bar’s ad regulations can subject lawyers and firms to a variety of disciplinary procedures.
Another factor for consideration can be found in the various lists’ publicity guidelines (which are seemingly written with an eye toward State Bar rules). For instance, Super Lawyers prohibits honorees from calling themselves “Super Lawyers.” Instead, they should use language along the lines of “David Jones was named to the Texas Super Lawyers list” or “Marisa Rodriguez was recognized by Super Lawyers.”
Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Best Law Firms and D Magazine – as well as most other reputable ranking entities – also have publicity guidelines that should be adhered to when publicizing their honors.
The benefit of being included in a “best” list is significant if handled properly. That’s why it’s worth your time to take a few minutes away from holiday plans to make sure you know the requirements for being selected and the deadlines for nominations. You’ll be glad you did when your clients see you listed among the “best.”
Bruce Vincent is a writer and editor who has helped lawyers and law firms manage the various legal “best” lists for more than 20 years. He is the former managing editor of Texas Lawyer newspaper and the only reporter to provide daily coverage of the federal trial that produced Texas’ rules governing lawyer advertising. He lives in Dallas with his beautiful wife and their two misbehaving dogs.