Prior to 1978 it was the goal of all attorneys to obtain an “AV” rating in the Martindale-Hubbell as a sign you were a talented and ethical lawyer. The “A” stood for excellent, expertise and legal ability in the community amongst fellow practitioners. The “V” stood for high ethical standards that came from judges and attorneys that had often been involved in litigation with the person being considered for an AV rating.
In order to obtain the highest category you had to be in practice for at least 15 years. The lawyers selected to anonymously rate your ability were both plaintiff and defense lawyers in various categories. While the large firms had an easier path for their members to get an AV it was more difficult for personal injury plaintiff lawyers to get the rating because of the often confrontational nature of dealing with defense lawyers.
You couldn’t get an AV by having a few of your buddies send in a favorable recommendation. You also couldn’t get the highest rating by buying a plaque or membership for $1,000.00. It was a prized symbol that you were a capable and well thought of member of the legal profession.
I recently came across an announcement in October 2018 that there had been a merger of Martindale-Hubbell and the more controversial Avvo into a new entity called “Martindale-Avvo” in a new family of legal marketing brands that also include Nolo and Ngage Live Chat.
The new entity claims access to more than 25 million consumers monthly and “engagement with potential clients through forums that receive more than 70,000 questions monthly.”
With its checkered record by the court decision in New York and other states as to its illegal and ethical ramifications Avvo seemed an unlucky partner of the formerly time revered Martindale-Hubbell.
The quest for profits and legal existence often result in strange bedpartners.
I encourage you to buy local products and hire local, reputable attorneys!