Super Lawyers: Does it Legit Help Your Practice?
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Super Lawyers: Does it Legit Help Your Practice?

Super Lawyers — we’ve all heard of them, but how are they really chosen? Does being a “Super Lawyer” even mean something? 

Here’s everything you need to know:

What is Super Lawyers?

Super Lawyers is a popular lawyer rating service in the United States. According to their official website, they use a patented selection process to rate the best attorneys across 70+ practice areas.

The Super Lawyers directory also rounds up a separate “Rising Stars” list. This is for outstanding lawyers who are only 40 years of age or younger or have ten or fewer years of experience in the legal profession.

So, is Super Lawyers legit?

The short answer is, Super Lawyers is not a scam — but the legal community has mixed opinions regarding the award’s merit and legitimacy.

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that the Super Lawyers award relies exclusively on votes. You’re not required to pay any fee to get selected, nor are there ways to “buy” your way in.  

Super Lawyers are also very transparent in their selection process. With the attention of lawyers nationwide, the organization tries to avoid anything remotely comparable to a scam. 

While a Super Lawyers badge and plaque may be attractive to prospects, the legal community isn’t entirely convinced.

It doesn’t help that some Super Lawyer honorees themselves feel like it’s all a marketing ploy. After all, honorees get many emails encouraging them to buy advertising products and a physical plaque.

To give you an idea, here’s a snippet of a conversation around Super Lawyers in the r/LawFirm subreddit.

Super lawyers reddit comments

From a digital marketing standpoint, such awards do leave a good first impression on most website visitors. Even so, some Super Lawyer honorees themselves acknowledge that the award’s actual value doesn’t extend beyond marketing.

Super lawyers reddit conversation

The Promises: Benefits of Super Lawyers

In a way, the promises of being a Super Lawyer in your practice area are all about prestige. This translates to a number of tangible benefits for law firms.

  • Generate and close more law firm leads. A Super Lawyer designation may not matter much to some legal professionals, but some prospects might consider the achievement when choosing a law firm.
  • Improve your legal networking efforts. Super Lawyers provides tools that can help your lawyer networking efforts, such as events, advertising solutions, and legal directory listings.
  • Increase your brand authority. Firms in public-facing practice areas Super Lawyer badge on your law firm website can help firms in public-facing practice areas (immigration, healthcare, employment) when promoting books, blog posts, or social media channels. 

Super Lawyers Roadblocks

On the surface, making it to the Super Lawyers list looks like a tight, uphill battle. 

According to Super Lawyers, they only look at no more than 5% of all attorneys in each state. As for the Rising Stars list, they only considers no more than 2.5% of eligible attorneys. 

Super Lawyers also state that they enforce a number of measures to keep the selection process as fair as possible: 

  • No candidate can nominate themselves for consideration. 
  • There’s no option to pay your way into the selection pool. 
  • Nominations from other lawyers in your own firm require supporting nominations outside your company. 

While Super Lawyers expressly prohibit “campaigning” for nominations, cross-nominations and sharing your intent to get nominated aren’t always flagged — not to mention that such activities are difficult to track.

This creates a grey area where lawyers who really want a Super Lawyer recognition can generate nominations through various networking activities.

How to Get Into Super Lawyers

Here’s a quick breakdown of the Super Lawyers selection process:

1. Get Nominated

The Super Lawyers selection process begins with the creation of the candidate pool.

Each year, the organization invites attorneys to make formal nominations based on their firsthand experiences and observations in the field. 

Formal nominations from lawyers within the same law firm are valid. However, nominations from lawyers outside your firm have a higher “point value” in Super Lawyers’ rating system. 

Apart from formal nominations, the candidate pool may also include attorneys through informal nominations. These are submitted by clients, website visitors, marketers, and attorneys licensed in a different state.

Informal nominations don’t carry a point value for nominees, but they’re still added to the candidate pool for further evaluation.

2. Evaluation Process

Super Lawyers look at 12 factors of peer recognition and professional achievement to evaluate candidates. This includes the following: 

  • Community involvement (pro bono, community service, etc.)
  • Scholarly publications and lectures
  • Successful verdicts and settlements
  • Total transactions
  • Years and depth of experience
  • Awards and honors
  • Additional accreditations and certifications
  • Role/position in law firm
  • Representative clients
  • Law firm bar association and other professional community activities
  • Educational and professional background
  • Miscellaneous achievements

Working to raise points in these 12 indicators, of course, can’t be done overnight. You need to fully commit to providing excellent legal service to your clients, growing your business through attorney marketing, and becoming active in legal and local communities.  

3. Peer Assessment

Also known as the “blue ribbon review” step, candidates are also evaluated by other attorneys in the same practice area. 

The top attorneys with the highest points through the nomination and internal evaluation processes are invited into the Blue Ribbon Panel. Their task is to evaluate and rate candidates in their specific practice areas on a scale of one to five. 

If you don’t make the Blue Ribbon Panel, the outcome of your Super Lawyer designation lies in their evaluation. Your networking efforts, dedication as a legal professional, career achievements, and long-term work ethic will make a difference in here. 

4. Selection Process

Before the final selection, candidates are grouped according to their firm’s size. From there, 5% of candidates with the highest points in each category are up for selection. 

Super Lawyers’ internal research department also conducts a final background check on qualifying candidates. They will collude with local licensing authorities to verify their licensing status, inspect their disciplinary or criminal history, and scan the internet for any issues that put the candidate’s character into question. 

Once selected, Super Lawyers will publish the results in their magazine and advertising material on an annual basis. And if you make the cut, you should also be able to find your name on the Super Lawyer website. 

Establish Your Law Firm’s Authority with Holistic Marketing

Super Lawyer or not, focusing on building your authority, legal network, and online presence will help grow your firm.

There are plenty of law offices with an entire wall full of awards and certifications. But, if you can’t effectively market your firm and provide outstanding service to your clients, those are merely decorations.

Rather than fixating on winning a Super Lawyer award, you need a consistent commitment to the quality of your legal services and the effectiveness of your marketing. 

We can help you with the latter. 

Contact us and let us handle the marketing side of things while you focus on providing outstanding legal service to your clients. 

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