Using Lawyers.com: Peer Review Ratings & Client Review Ratings

Posted September 21, 2010 in About Lawyers.com by

Choosing an attorney isn’t always easy, particularly if you don’t have much experience working with the legal profession. Personal recommendations can be invaluable, but what do you do if you can’t get individual feedback and suggestions? And how do you choose between two lawyers who – on paper – seem to have the same credentials?

Lawyers.com simplifies the process through our Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review RatingsTM and Client Review Ratings. These ratings tools give you credible, reliable information to help you find the lawyer who’s right for you.

About Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings

For more than 100 years, Martindale-Hubbell (the owner of Lawyers.com) has published Peer Review Ratings, which use a lawyer’s peers to assess his legal ability and ethical standards. To be eligible for a Peer Review Rating, a lawyer must be a member of the state bar for at least three years and be in good standing. The attorney is then evaluated by local judges and lawyers in a specific area of practice.

Peer Review Ratings have two components:

  • General Ethical Standards Rating: This rating indicates that a lawyer holds to professional standards for conduct and ethics, including reliability and diligence. Lawyers must obtain a "Very High" rating for General Ethical Standards to obtain a Peer Review Rating.
  • Legal Ability Ratings: Legal Ability ratings show professional ability within a specific area of practice as rated by other lawyers and judges. These ratings are based on performance in five key areas: Legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication ability and legal experience.

A lawyer who successfully earns a "Very High" General Ethical Standards rating is then eligible to receive one of two ratings certifications: AV or BV. He/she is also eligible to receive the Ratings designation.

  • AV Preeminent: An AV certification mark indicates a lawyer’s peers rank him at the highest level of professional excellence
  • BV Distinguished: The BV certification mark is an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience
  • Rated: The Peer Review Rated designation demonstrates the lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing

If an attorney has received a Peer Review Rating, you will see it on his Lawyers.com profile. If a profile does not include a Peer Review Rating, it may mean the lawyer has not yet been rated, has chosen to omit the rating from his profile, has not been a member of the bar for at least three years or does not have enough peers to provide a Peer Review Rating.

About Client Review Ratings

Client Review Ratings on Lawyers.com supplement and complement the Peer Review Ratings. Client Review Ratings are drawn directly from client feedback on a particular lawyer. The client evaluations assess a lawyer’s performance in several categories:

  • Communication ability
  • Responsiveness
  • Quality of service
  • Value for money

Just as you might read consumer reviews of a book or other product before purchasing it from Amazon.com, the Client Review Ratings can help you make an informed decision before interviewing or hiring an attorney. These reviews also help the attorney know how well he is doing and how he can improve the services offered to clients.

If an attorney has received Client Review Ratings, they will appear on the attorney’s Lawyers.com profile. If an attorney has no Client Review Ratings, it may mean that no clients have rated the lawyer or the lawyer has opted to omit the Client Review Ratings from his profile.

How Can You Use Peer Review and Client Review Ratings?

If you need to hire an attorney, Client Review Ratings and Peer Review Ratings give you additional information to help evaluate a potential attorney. These ratings shouldn’t be the sole criteria you use when making a hiring decision, but can help you narrow your options if there are many lawyers who otherwise have similar credentials. If you’ve met and interviewed a few lawyers and can’t decide which one to hire, the Peer Review Rating and information in the Client Review Ratings also help you make a final decision.

Once you’ve worked with an attorney, you can submit your own Client Review Rating. By providing this valuable feedback, you’re helping other potential customers make informed buying decisions. You’ll also help the attorney know what he’s doing well and where there might be room for improvement. (Rest assured that these reviews are confidential and anonymous.)

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