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Martindale Hubbell ratings no longer ranked as highly

I just got back from an interesting presentation on law firm rankings/ ratings over at Briggs and Morgan.

The panel discussion was run by Legal Marketing Association of Minnesota. The moderator was attorney coach Roy S. Ginsburg. The panelists were three all-star legal marketers (or should I say “Super Marketers?”) — Deb Cochran of Winthrop & Weinstine, Amanda Walsh of Bowman and Brooke and Janet Nelson of Bassford Remele).

The panel discussed a variety of rating companies, including Chambers, Best Lawyers®, Martindale Hubbell and, of course Super Lawyers.

So how did the rankings rank? The consensus seemed to be that Chambers was the most prestigious, Super Lawyers the most user-friendly and Best Lawyers®, was just a pain to complete all the prep work (although they tend to recognize the greatest number of lawyers). The Association of Corporate Counsel’s Value Index was very popular among firms looking for corporate business.

Ginsburg alluded to the one elephant in the room — U.S. News’ recent entry into the law firm/ lawyer rankings business. (You remember U.S. News? The folks who brought us the joys of “nationally ranked law schools,” and everything that has meant for the state of legal education?)

Ginsburg said that, for better or ill, the entrance of U.S. News into the attorney/ law firm ranking field “is a potential game-changer.” However, the rankings are still new and “the jury’s still out” on the impact, he added.

The big loser of the day was good-old, staid Martindale Hubbell, those musty old books that have helped provide the backdrop for many a cheesy legal drama. With its quaint rating system (what the heck is really the difference between “AV” and “BV?”), Martindale seems to be skidding toward irrelevance. This, despite the fact that LexisNexis now owns it, has put its contents online and has even done some tinkering to make the ratings a little hipper.

Of the three major firms in town represented by the three legal marketers on the panel, one firm has discontinued its involvement with Martindale, one firm is mulling doing so right now and the third firm initially opted to discontinue, but ultimately decided to renew this year.

It’s a sea change from the days when lawyers clamored for that vaunted “AV” imprimatur from the publisher of the stately, but daunting-looking legal tomes


  1. I always wondered why Martindale Hubbel chose to use the letters “AV” for its highest ranking. To a layperson the most logical inference is that “AV” stands for “Average.”

  2. Hence the fall of the Martindale rating system. I’ll wager a lot more folks know what “super” means than know what “AV” means.

  3. w.m.bullitt was one of the greatest of all time. 1873-1957

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