A few days ago I read a small piece on Thomas Edison . It is interesting how many inventions he was responsible for — the light bulb, obviously, the phonograph and the motion picture camera, just to name a few. With all of the great inventions, there were also many failures; Edison patented more than 1,000 inventions. In response to his failures, he was quoted as saying “Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward.”
This is a great attitude if you want to generate ideas, invoke innovation and trigger those creative juices. Unfortunately, when you need to narrow down a search for a good lawyer, it doesn’t help to have so many failures. You need to have some confidence that the route you have taken to determine your final choice of a lawyer provides you with a choice that was initially identified objectively, fairly and equitably.
A recent comment on the Legaline blog showcases the frustration of an Avvo user trying to distinguish between lawyers who have received special positioning/ratings due to their credentials or their ability to manipulate the system. While no rating system is foolproof, the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings system has been around for more than 100 years and is still by far the gold standard when seeking to identify a qualified and ethical lawyer.
What makes our ratings process work? It is objective — ratings reviewers, as well as the lawyers being reviewed for a new or upgraded rating, are chosen at random. We have more than a million lawyers in our database. The evaluation and selection process chooses lawyers from all 50 states, including everyone from solo practitioners to members of large law firms, and doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender, race, age or even whether or not the lawyer subscribes to Martindale-Hubbell. They all have an opportunity to participate as a reviewer or a potential recipient of our ratings.
We make only one guarantee to any lawyer about our ratings; and that guarantee is that you will have a ratings review conducted. We do not guarantee the outcome, and lawyers cannot buy a new or enhanced rating. We have long strived to provide a service to the bar and act as a facilitator of the ratings process, letting peers decide what rating an individual lawyer receives.
Ratings are just one type of information we offer users who visit our Web site to find a lawyer. We make it clear that the rating was established for that lawyer by his or her peers, not by Martindale-Hubbell. It’s an anonymous and candid process that evaluates not the lawyer’s marketing skill or network, but his or her legal ability. That’s why associates sometimes get better reviews than partners!
When a user comes to our site, we regard our ratings as one component, albeit an important component in the selection process. We then surround the user with other criteria about that lawyer’s credentials and allow side-by-side comparisons that assists in the final selection process.
So when I hear that a lawyer can easily manipulate another company’s process to receive a good rating, my initial reaction is, “That’s too bad, but we now know another invention that might not work.”