‘Super Lawyers’ Are Known by Their Work, Not by Select Lists

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A PR professional who focuses on the legal industry says a recent flap in New Jersey, when an ethics committee appointed by the state’s Supreme Court decided that a magazine advertising supplement listing the state’s top lawyers violated rules of professional conduct, is just an example of a poor attempt at self-promotion and a poorer choice of venue. A good example of self-promotion is when savvy lawyers and firms leverage the news media to raise their profile and visibility with target audiences, markets, and industries, etc.

A recent flap in New Jersey gained nationwide attention when an ethics committee appointed by the state’s Supreme Court decided that a magazine advertising supplement listing the state’s top lawyers violated rules of professional conduct. But, in the opinion of one public relations professional, this is just an example of a poor attempt at self-promotion and a poorer choice of venue.

According to Brian Levitt, principal of LawMedia Communications and a PR professional for 30 years, “as the legal market becomes more saturated and competition for new clients becomes more intense, self-promotion – good self promotion -- can be strategic and a key to making a firm and its attorneys stand out. Unfortunately, good lawyers sometimes make bad business decisions.”

The “proceed with caution” sign should have gone off when the company told lawyers of their selection as “Super Lawyers” and then informed them they could buy a full-page ad for up to $15,000. Levitt flags these as “pay-for-play opportunities” that could negatively impact an attorney’s and a law firm’s credibility.

The New Jersey “Super Lawyer” designation is a self-aggrandizing title. And it does “have the potential to lead an unwary consumer to believe that the lawyers so described are, by virtue of the manufactured title, superior to their colleagues who practice in the same area of law,” as the committee wrote.

A good example of self-promotion is when savvy lawyers and firms leverage the news media to raise their profile and visibility with target audiences, markets, and industries that will impact their business and revenue. Being in the news – your name and/or the name of your firm – in relation to a case won, a successful merger or business venture – positively enhances reputation.

Levitt says. “Effectiveness and track record is an important benchmark in choosing an attorney or, for that matter, a law firm. When lawyers and their firms are consistently in the news, the perception is that lawyer or law firm is a thought leader or the best in that area of law.”

Paying to be listed as a “Super Lawyer” creates skepticism and does little to enhance the public perception of lawyers. It’s like pharmaceutical giant Merck wasting $21 million for an internal investigation that found it acted perfectly when it took Vioxx off the market.

CONTACT:

Brian Levitt

LawMedia Communications

561-737-1693

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