Lawyer rankings are big business these days.

An article earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal documented emails that have been stacking up in many lawyers’ inboxes over the last few years, all proclaiming the recipient as Top, Super, Best, Leading and many other superlatives.

It’s tough to burst my clients’ bubble when they forward me another breathless email declaring that they are among an elite group of attorneys being named to this latest list.

But most of these awards are just scams, cleverly disguised as ego stroking.

The fine print will explain that while you have been named to this list solely because of your supreme mastery of your area of law, unfortunately no one will know about this great news unless you buy a plaque, pay for an expanded profile or write a check to be included in an upcoming ad.

To be fair, there are legitimate lawyer and law firm rankings out there. American Lawyer Media, Acritas and Chambers are a few that have real methodologies backing up their lists. And perhaps they are right that general counsel look to these lists when determining where to send their bet-the-company work.

Perhaps.

Nonetheless, here is an easy way to navigate these awards.

If an awards entity wants to say nice things about you, let them. Put it on your website news section. Post it to LinkedIn. Maybe even add it to your bio – but no badges, please.

Just don’t give them any money.

Instead, use that money to trademark a new superlative adjective, and start your own business model capitalizing on the egos of, say, accountants. Those guys will totally fall for it.

 

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Jocelyn Brumbaugh is the founder ofThe Brumbaugh Group, which provides marketing and lateral integration strategy for law firms and other professional services firms.  She also runs Legal & Professional Services Council, a Chicago-based nonprofit trade group for in-house law firm marketers.