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The Martindale-Hubbell website, www.martindale.com provides the following information about its ratings:
There are two components to each Martindale-Hubbell Rating:
The Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Rating (PRR) is composed of a combination of the Ethical Rating and the Legal Ability Rating:
When both categories of PRR are confirmed, a lawyer may receive a numeric rating, a rating term, and depending upon the numeric rating, a Certification mark. PRR are based on performance in specific areas, rated on a scale of 1-5; 1 being lowest and 5 being highest:
AV® Preeminent™ (4.5-5.0) – An AV® certification mark is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
BV® Distinguished™ (3.0-4.4) – The BV® certification mark is an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience. A widely respected mark of achievement, it differentiates a lawyer from his or her competition.
Rated (1.0-2.9) – The Peer Review Rated designation demonstrates that the lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing.
1. Legal Ability Ratings
Legal Ability Ratings take into consideration the standard of professional ability in the area where the lawyer practices, the lawyer’s expertise, and ability in the area where the lawyer practices, the lawyer’s expertise, and other professional qualifications. If a lawyer’s practice is limited or specialized, Ratings are based on performance in those specific field of law.
Legal Ability Ratings are:
C – Good to High
B – High to Very High
A – Very High to Preeminent
2. General Ethical Standards Rating
The General Ethical Standards Rating denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities.
The General Recommendation Rating is:
V – Very High
A lawyer will not receive a Legal Ability Rating unless he or she has been endorsed for a “V”. When both categories of Ratings are confirmed, a lawyer receives an CV, BV or AV Rating.
Ratings reflect career development
A lawyer’s Rating will generally improve over time. But Ratings can be revised downward, or even removed if a decline is noted in ability or ethical standards.
A CV Rating is an excellent first Rating and a statement of a lawyer’s above average ability and very high ethics.
A BV Rating is an indication of an exemplary reputation and well-established practice. A typical lawyer is in mid-career, with significant client base and high professional standing.
An AV Rating shows that a lawyer has reached the height of professional excellence. He or she has usually practiced law for many years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity.
An integral part of Martindale-Hubbell’s service to the legal community is the Lawyer Rating system, which evaluates lawyers and law firms in the US and Canada based upon peer review.
Martindale-Hubbell’s Ratings are considered invaluable when evaluating a lawyer. When making referrals or looking for counsel in another jurisdiction, lawyers need to have confidence in the individual under consideration. By reviewing the Ratings, they can select counsel with superior ethics, as well as the desired level of professional experience. Ratings attest to a lawyer’s legal ability and professional ethics, and reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and Judiciary. The Ratings are part of a century-long tradition and are exclusive to Martindale-Hubbell. They appear in all formats of the Martindale-Hubbell® Law Directory, in the online listings on www.martindale.com , on the LexisNexis service, on CD-ROM, and in print.
The process of the Ratings system
The Martindale-Hubbell Ratings system is based on the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary, including both those who are rated and those who are not.
Martindale-Hubbell representatives conduct personal interviews to discuss lawyers under review with other members of the Bar. A compilation of these opinions from various sources is necessary to form a consensus, and lawyers under review are sometimes asked to provide professional references to assist with the process.
In addition, confidential questionnaires are sent to lawyers and judges in the same geographic location and/or area of practice as the lawyer being rated. Members of the Bar are instructed to assess their colleague’s legal ability and general ethical standards.
If reports indicate that the lawyer in question does not meet the highest ethical standards, further explanations are requested.
Regular Ratings reviews
Ratings are reviewed in stages over the course of a lawyer’s career. The first review usually occurs five years after first admission to the Bar; established Ratings are reviewed every five to eight years thereafter – or earlier if we receive information indicating that a lawyer’s ethics or abilities are under question.
Disbarred or suspended lawyers automatically have their Ratings removed. Bar admitting authorities continuously supply Martindale-Hubbell with disciplinary information.
The Distribution of Ratings
Martindale-Hubbell currently reviews or assigns Ratings for over 100,000 lawyers each year. Presently, 45% of US lawyers in private practice have Martindale-Hubbell Ratings. The rated universe consists of approximately 3% CV® Ratings, 21% BV® Ratings, and 21% AV® Ratings.
Important notes about Ratings
All Rating review materials are strictly confidential, enabling participants to provide completely candid assessments of their colleagues. Under no circumstances are any Ratings review materials released. It is also important to note that, since Martindale-Hubbell does not undertake to develop Ratings for all lawyers, the fact that a lawyer is not rated should not be construed unfavorably.
CV, BV, and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc., used under license. Martindale-Hubbell is a service mark and a registered trademark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used under license.
Peer Review Rated
For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability