Touting your award wins: how to stay in compliance with legal marketing ethics rules

December 22, 2023

If you subscribe to our newsletter, then you know that we already bring you the latest and greatest award opportunities to showcase your firm’s expertise and accomplishments. But what happens when you win an award? You want everyone to know (particularly potential clients and recruits), but you might not know where to start when promoting it. Here’s how you can toot your own horn without getting slapped with a lawsuit of your own

How to promote Chambers and Partners

Once ranked in Chambers and Partners, you can download Chambers logos through your account. Specifically, you can download the logo (for a fee) for the guide you are ranked in. Chambers encourages attorneys to share on their firm’s webpage or individual lawyer bio pages. Keep in mind that you need to resubmit to Chambers each year to stay ranked. 

When mentioning your newly won award in press releases or a biography, it’s also important to list which “band” you are featured in. 

Name (Category: Practice Ranked In)
Example: John Doe (Alabama Litigation: General Commercial), Jane Doe (Florida Litigation: Appellate, Florida) 

Want to learn more about submitting to Chambers? We have a blog post with all the details on how to submit. 

How to promote Benchmark Litigation

Benchmark Litigation is a study and analysis of the business of litigation and disputes. They monitor firms and lawyers across the country to get a sense of who the top players in the field are. 

When firms are ranked, editorial stories accompany the rankings (when a law firm’s practice engages with the research process), but firms are unable to see the editorials before they are published. Benchmark allows firms to copy the market feedback quotes listed in an editorial review and use them as excerpts in marketing materials, but warns against copying the entire editorial. Logos, rosettes, badges and other related images, however, must be purchased on a contract basis that is established by Benchmark’s commercial team. 

While it is possible to buy an ad with Benchmark to promote your firm, Benchmark assures that editorial and sales are completely separate, and purchasing an ad does not mean a ranking will follow. 

How to promote Law360 rankings

Law360 has various rankings throughout the year, such as Rising Star, Titans of the Plaintiffs Bar, MVPs, Practice Groups of the Year and Regional Powerhouses. Rising Stars is their most popular award program, with approximately 1,400 annual submissions. We’ve broken down helpful tips for submitting in another INKsights blog post. If an attorney is chosen as a winner and is then unable or unwilling to participate in an interview by the reporter’s deadline, Law360 will rescind the award. Keep this in mind when applying in case an attorney may be out-of-pocket. 

Fast forward, and you’ve won an award. Since Law360 is a news organization, it’s important to remember to buy reprint rights if you’d like to have access to post the full article. It’s okay to write a short summary of the article and post it as a news item or social post, but make sure to link to the original source. If you’d like to include the full article, buying official reprint rights is the only option. 

How to promote The Legal 500

Like Chambers and Partners and Benchmark Litigation, the submission process for The Legal 500 can sometimes be a heavy lift. Luckily, once you’re recommended, The Legal 500 makes it easy to download their logo for your convenience to embed onto your website.

The Legal 500 encourages firms to use the recommended logos on their websites, email signatures and marketing materials, but asks that firms credit legal500.com as the source. Logos can only be used by firms and individuals who have been recommended as part of the independent research in the editorial sections of The Legal 500. 

How to promote Super Lawyers

Super Lawyers ranks attorneys by state, and they are looking for attorneys to nominate other “top lawyers they have personally observed in action, whether as opposing counsel, co-counsel or through firsthand observation in the courtroom.” It all comes down to your fellow lawyers. Keep in mind that being listed (or not) one year has zero bearing on whether you will be listed (or not) in subsequent years, and there’s not much an agency can do to help you get on the list. 

When promoting your rankings, do not refer to a lawyer as a “Super Lawyer” or a “Rising Star.” Rather, “they have been named to the (year) (state) Super Lawyers list or (year) (state) Rising Stars list.” When used properly, the term is not descriptive or comparative, which could raise ethical concerns in some jurisdictions. Instead, it’s a fact-based statement, and as such, is protected speech. 

A few other things to keep in mind: 

  • Super Lawyers refers to the listing of attorneys, not a person or group of people. 
  • Super Lawyers should be used only in its plural form. 
  • You must use both the year and jurisdiction when referencing Super Lawyers.

By the way, Super Lawyers offers this suggested language for your press release announcing the honor, but if you have a PR agency, they’ve got you covered

How to promote Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers’ policies are very similar to Super Lawyers’. To keep honorees in compliance with legal marketing standards, just as you cannot tout you are a “Super Lawyer,” you also cannot advertise being a “Best Lawyer” without the context of the specific ranking and year. 

Best Lawyers provides an ad guide on its website that lists helpful examples to reference. All compliant Best Lawyers announcements must contain the edition year, country and award practice area. A few important things to note are: 

  • You are permitted to mention that you are recognized by Best Lawyers® or recognized in The Best Lawyers in America®, Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America, Best Law Firms®, The Best Lawyers in [Country Name]™, Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in [Country Name]™, etc., but not that you are a “best lawyer” or “best law firm.” 
  • You cannot suggest that an award by Best Lawyers guarantees a desired result nor imply an endorsement of any products or services.
  • Best Lawyers and Best Law Firms are always plural. 
  • When referring to U.S.A. versions of Best Lawyers publications and honors, use the registration symbol. When referring to international publications and awards, use the trademark symbol.
  • The names of all publications, domestically and internationally, should be italicized. The company name is not italicized.

A few examples of correct usage include: 

John & Doe, LLC is proud to have 12 lawyers recognized by Best Lawyers® in 2024 in America.

Jane Smith was recently included in the 2024 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® for Family Law and Family Law Mediation.

John Doe was included in the 2024 edition of the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America for her work in Construction Law.

When using images, permission for use of Best Lawyers and Best Law Firms logos and badges begins on the date of purchase and lasts either 12 months after purchase or until the release of the next publication of rankings in your country. All images must include the appropriate verbiage. This is extremely important to remember, and we recommend setting a reminder before permissions expire. Law firm logos and badges must be officially licensed for use.

How to promote Lawdragon rankings

Lawdragon features different guides throughout the year, such as 500 Leading Family Lawyers, 500 Corporate Employment Lawyers, 500 Leading Litigators in America, 500 Leading Global Litigators and more. To make a Lawdragon guide, a lawyer will have to have been in practice for at least 10 years (with rare exceptions). 

Lawdragon has badges available for purchase to be used on a firm’s website and in marketing materials. When listing a feature in a guide, a safe way to list the announcement is: “Lawdragon has included (firm) (attorney title) (name) in its (year) Lawdragon (guide name) list.” 

An example of this is: “Lawdragon has included John & Doe partner in its 2024 Lawdragon 500 Leading Litigators in America list.” 

How to promote Martindale-Hubbell

Similar to Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell offers a peer-rated endorsement system to rank lawyers. Once a lawyer achieves a certain ranking, it carries over from year to year (unlike Super Lawyers). 

Martindale-Hubbell requires the use of certification marks when referencing the award, such as: 

  • AV®
  • AV Preeminent®
  • Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished℠
  • Martindale-Hubbell Notable℠

Images and logos can also be downloaded from Martindale-Hubbell for attorneys and firms to use. Firms also must list additional requirements, such as including either a reference explaining the rating or a link to a webpage of the firm/lawyer maintained by Martindale-Hubbell. Keep in mind that Martindale-Hubbell does not allow the use or mention of the award in political pieces, advertisements or campaign materials.  

There are additional guidelines for printed materials, radio and television and other mediums provided by Martindale-Hubbell

Three additional thoughts to keep in mind

  1. Like our friends at Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers note, be careful about the verbiage you’re using to tout wins to confirm you comply with legal ethics advertising standards. These can differ from state to state. Keep in mind that some states require disclaimers, qualifying language or discussions on all or certain types of advertisements. 
  1. If you win an award, it’s okay to show it off, but make sure it is noteworthy. All of the awards listed in this blog post are, but there are a plethora of spam or pay-to-play awards and rankings out there, which hinder your credibility. Not all awards and rankings were created equal, and be careful not to sour your website with spammy awards. Instead, let the noteworthy ones speak for themselves. If you’re unsure about an award, use this checklist to determine if it’s legit or not.
  1. Many state bar ethics rules require the full name of the award provider in any website news item headlines. You must use the exact wording, often including the publisher’s name. It’s important to list the full legal name of the award, list or ranking you are part of. Be sure to check your particular state’s ethics guidelines. 

We hope that helps answer questions surrounding legal awards. If you’d like to learn more or chat with us about potential submissions for your firm, we’re here to help!

 
 
 

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  • About the Author
    Ashton Nichols

    Ashton Nichols is a writer and creative who loves to tell stories that have impact. Whether  conducting industry research, drafting lead-generating content or developing a client media campaign, she loves every second of what she does.

    Read my full bio or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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