How Do I Learn the Rating of a Law Firm?

Martindale-Hubbell provides a lawyer rating system, which evaluates lawyers and law firms in the United States and Canada, based on peer review. The Rating System is based on the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell representatives conduct personal interviews with members of the Bar to discuss those members under review. Additionally, confidential questionnaires are sent to lawyers and judges in the same geographic area and/or area of practice as the member being rated. All Rating review materials are strictly confidential, to allow participants to provide candid assessments of their colleagues.

Each Martindale-Hubbell Rating has two components: legal ability; and general ethical standards. The Legal Ability Ratings are: C (good to high); B (high to very high); and A (very high to preeminent). 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 responsiblities.” The General Recommendation Rating for Ethical Standards is “V” (very high). According to Martindale-Hubbell, a lawyer will not receive a Legal Ability Rating unless he or she has been endorsed for a “V” under the Ethical Standards Rating.

The ratings are described by Martindale-Hubbell as follows:

  • 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 a significant client base and high professional standard.
  • 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.
  • The Rating System is fluid and reflects the career development of the lawyers included. A lawyer’s Rating will generally improve over time, but can be revised downward or removed, if a decline is noted in legal ability or ethical standards.

    Additional information about the rating system can be found on the Martindale-Hubbell Web site.

    It should be noted that not all lawyers or law firms are rated by