Is the Martindale-Hubbell AV rating meaningful anymore (for family law attorneys especially)?
QUESTION: Is the Martindale-Hubbell AV rating meaningful anymore (for divorce and family law attorneys especially)?
ANSWER: Consulting Martindale-Hubbell certainly can’t hurt a potential client in helping him or her to assess a divorce or family lawyer’s qualifications, skills, and “fit” with you, but Martindale-Hubbell isn’t as important as it used to be simply because it no longer has the lock on the information it used to have in the pre-Internet “information glut” age. Now there are many, many attorney rating and information sources and services (such as Avvo, LegalMatch, Yelp, Google reviews, etc.), as well as attorney’s own websites with even more, and more specific, useful information to help you assess an attorney’s strengths, weaknesses, and suitability for your particular needs. The “AV” rating is simply the highest rating you can receive from Martindale-Hubbell, but understand what that means and what it doesn’t. Richard Rubenstein had this to say about Martindale-Hubbell, and I concur with him:
“Lawyers tend to use Martindale-Hubbell to identify out of state lawyers for referrals. I have never had a client admit to using it. I suppose MH is more useful and accurate for [lawyers] because it is peer rating [i.e., lawyers rating other lawyers], instead of client rating. It is largely outmoded, from what I can see, and far from objective.”
So if you have access to Martindale-Hubbell, use it, but understand the sources of the information and ratings. I wouldn’t recommend, however, that you rely on Martindale-Hubbell exclusively to assist you in choosing a divorce or family law attorney, or any attorney, for that matter.
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