What are Attorney Ratings?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Attorney ratings are scores which are assigned to attorneys to provide information about their level of skill. People can use attorney ratings to find an attorney to work with. Numerous organizations provide attorney ratings, and such systems have varying degrees of reliability. While looking for ratings can be beneficial for someone seeking out an attorney, it is important to consider where the ratings are coming from.

Attorney ratings provide a score based on an attorney's level of skill.
Attorney ratings provide a score based on an attorney's level of skill.

Every rating system works differently, and with many companies the specifics are proprietary, which means that visitors have no way of knowing precisely how the company arrives at a given score. Attorney ratings can be as simple as a numerical score between one and ten which provides information about whether or not an attorney is a good choice. Others are more complicated and may rate attorneys along several different axes to provide a more complete picture.

One notable provider of attorney ratings is Martindale-Hubbel®, which uses a peer review ratings system. This system relies on input from other lawyers. This rating system also has a client review component, allowing clients to provide feedback about attorneys based on their experience. Other systems rely primarily on client reviews of lawyers.

Online attorney ratings can be convenient to be access, but they can also be highly unreliable. An attorney rating can be skewed by a few angry clients who go online to vent their wrath, while satisfied clients may not think to write up a review for a ratings site. It can be difficult to tell how many clients have reviewed an attorney on some sites and it is impossible to determine whether or not the reviews are balanced. Since verifying that someone actually is a client can be a challenge, there is also a risk that there will be false ratings on the site.

Some attorneys have sued companies which offer attorney ratings on the grounds that the systems they use to collect data are not balanced and that the ratings are unfair. When evaluating a company which provides such scores, it is helpful to find out where they source the information used in their ratings. Companies which rely on information volunteered by clients, for example, may be less reliable than companies which actively solicit information from both clients and fellow lawyers.

Word of mouth can be a sound way to find a good attorney or to verify claims made on ratings sites. People who have not personally needed legal services may have friends who have used lawyers and have recommendations. While a lawyer recommended by a friend may not practice in the right area of law, that lawyer can in turn recommend a colleague who might be a good fit for a given situation.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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