There are numerous attorney rating and legal directory services, each purporting to help clients find the right lawyer for their case. Hardly any rating service is as old — and revered — as Martindale-Hubbell. The ratings giant has been evaluating attorneys since 1868.
Its 1887 edition of American Law Directory was the first publication to provide attorney ratings. Since then, it has provided more than one million peer review ratings to attorneys and firms across the United States.
If you’re a lawyer, you’ve likely heard of Martindale-Hubbell. But unlike Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell doesn’t create a profile for every licensed attorney it can locate. Rather, you have to submit a request to obtain or enhance your Martindale rating (more on this in a bit).
There are three peer review rating awards an attorney can receive: AV Preeminent, Distinguished, and Notable.
This is the highest peer rating standard. It is given to attorneys whose peers rank them at the “highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards.”
This rating indicates that an attorney is widely respected by peers for professional accomplishments and ethics.
This rating shows that an attorney has received recognition from a large number of peers for their strong ethical standards.
Martindale also employs a rating system for client reviews, which we will discuss in-depth below. Whereas the former rating award is based on a lawyer’s reputation within the legal community, the client reviews award is based on a lawyer’s reputation among former clients.
What Makes Martindale-Hubbell Ratings Different?
Some services, such as Avvo, base attorney ratings on their profile information, along with information from state bar associations. Many emphasize metrics such as a lawyer’s professional awards, publications, and memberships.
Martindale-Hubbell is solely a peer review rating. It provides verified attorney ratings based “on their legal ability and ethical standards as judged by their peers.” The ratings service utilizes a secure online peer review survey to assess a lawyer’s legal ability and ethical standards.
Martindale contacts an attorney’s references and other lawyers in the same geographic region and practice area(s) to obtain feedback on the attorney’s ethical character. It also asks the reviewer to rate from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) in five categories: Legal Knowledge, Analytical Capabilities, Judgment, Communication, and Legal Experience. The reviewer can also provide written feedback.
An attorney’s completed peer reviews are posted on their Martindale.com profile within 24 hours of submission by the reference. Once a lawyer acquires the minimum (confidential) number of responses for a ratings award, Martindale will calculate the rating score and notify the lawyer of their award.
Does a High Martindale-Hubbell Rating Matter?
Many attorneys have grown weary of the glut of ratings services. However, this oversupply of legal ratings services is nothing compared to the oversaturation of lawyers advertising legal services online. Put simply, clients have too many options when they search for an attorney on the internet.
Securing high ratings from trusted services is one critical way to set yourself apart from other lawyers and law firms offering legal representation in your geographic area.
Ninety percent of consumers state that reviews influence whom they hire for legal services. Over 10% say they base their hiring decision on the endorsements and recommendations that an attorney receives from other attorneys.
Like it or not, Martindale is among the most prominent rating and referral services in the legal industry. Prospective clients care about a high Martindale rating. So should you. Moreover, your attorney peers care about a high Martindale-Hubbell rating.
When attorneys need to refer a client to another lawyer in an area or type of law where they don’t have contacts, they frequently consult Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review ratings to make their decision.
Your Martindale profile can be a valuable legal marketing tool. If you don’t have a Martindale profile, you may be missing out on countless leads and referrals. Prospective clients and referring attorneys may view you as a question mark — and may not even come across your firm in their search for quality legal services.
On the other hand, achieving a high Martindale peer review or client rating can increase your internet presence, enhance your legal marketing efforts, and even result in a boost to your local SEO.
What Are Some Other Benefits of a High Martindale Rating?
Obtaining a high Martindale rating can result in great dividends for your legal SEO and local marketing campaigns. Specifically, it can help your “offsite SEO,” which refers to methods for improving your SEO without altering your website. One critical component of off-site SEO is “link-building.”
Google places great emphasis on a website’s “authority” when determining which sites to rank on its first pages. One way it determines the authority of a website is to examine whether other websites are linking to it. Therefore, Google takes note when another website links to your law firm’s site. It starts to recognize that your content is valuable to consumers searching for legal services. Legal directories are a useful way to obtain strong backlinks to your site.
Your Peer Review Rating Can Be Used on Multiple Platforms
Your Martindale-Hubbell rating will also be visible on multiple ratings platforms. When a user searches for an attorney through Martindale.com or Lawyers.com, the attorney’s peer and client reviews are front and center. The user will also see an attorney’s peer review rating badge if the attorney is a Martindale subscriber. Otherwise, the user will have to click on the profile to see a lawyer’s reviews and ratings badge.
For example, check out this search in Lawyers.com for an attorney in Tampa, FL.
Now, let’s look at the same search in Martindale.com.
Almost 70% of consumers using these platforms will contact a lawyer directly from the search results. That makes first impressions critical. If a consumer sees you in the search results, your high ratings and professional distinctions may be the one thing that separates you from another attorney in the same results. It may be the distinguishing feature that gets a prospective client to click on your profile and pick up the phone to call your firm.
You can also display your peer review rating in your own legal marketing materials, including your website, press releases, advertisements, and more.
That means when clients access your website or interact with your advertisements, they will immediately associate you with strong legal abilities and professional achievement.
How Do I Get a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating?
There are a few simple steps you can take to acquire a Martindale peer review rating. You can take these same steps to enhance your current rating.
1. Contact Martindale’s Customer Support Team to Request a Rating
You can contact Martindale’s customer support team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-526-4902 to request your peer rating.
You will need to provide the following information:
- Your name
- Your firm’s name
- Your email address
- Your Martindale-Hubbell subscription status
You do not have to be a subscriber to receive a rating. A subscription will allow you to display your review and ratings badges in search results on Martindale.com and Lawyers.com.
2. Compile and Submit Your Peer References
The customer support team will provide you access to Martindale’s peer reference nomination tool. The tool requires a minimum number of 18 references. However, Martindale recommends listing 20-25+ attorneys or judges as references since it may not receive responses from all references. Remember, the minimum threshold for an attorney peer review rating is confidential. So the more references, the better.
Also, keep in mind that judges may not serve as peer references in the states of Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey, and South Carolina.
You must use peer references who are listed on Martindale.com. The reference attorney must also have a current email address in their Martindale profile for the service to contact them. You will not be able to add an attorney as a reference if they do not appear on Martindale.com.
Attorneys who are not on Martindale can submit a basic profile to be eligible to review other attorneys seeking a rating. There’s only one more step once you have your 18 peer references.
3. Contact Your Peer References
It’s always been seen as a professional courtesy to ask someone to be a reference before listing them as such in a resume or job application. It should be no different with the attorneys you plan to list as your Martindale-Hubbell references.
Moreover, if you notify an attorney that you are listing them as a reference, they will be more likely to respond to Martindale’s requests for feedback on your legal abilities and ethical character. Martindale’s research shows that lawyers are more likely to obtain a peer rating when they notify their reference after submitting their list.
Once you have done this, you have completed the process. You have only to wait for your rating. Martindale gives references at least two weeks to respond to its inquiries. It will contact you with status updates as needed.
Does Martindale Offer Client Review Ratings?
While Martindale has traditionally been known for its peer review ratings, it has also provided client review rating awards since 2017. Known as the “Client Champion” award, the rating helps consumers understand the experiences former clients had with a lawyer or law firm.
An attorney or law firm can obtain one of three different award levels to achieve a designation of Client Champion: Platinum, Gold, and Silver.
A Platinum Client Champion Award is the highest review rating. It means a lawyer or law firm has received at least 10 client reviews and maintains an average client rating of 4.5 or higher.
A Gold rating award means a lawyer or law firm has received at least 6 client reviews and maintains an average client rating of 4.2 or higher.
A Silver rating award means an attorney or firm has received at least 3 client reviews and maintains an average client rating of 4.0 or higher.
One can also receive a designation of “Client Reviewed” if their profile has at least one client review. The award is based on the number of reviews a lawyer or law firm has received on their martindale.com or lawyers.com profiles during the past two years. It is awarded yearly.
Where Can I Use My Rating?
Once acquired, the rating award will appear on a lawyer or law firm’s Martindale.com and Lawyers.com profiles.
As with the peer review ratings, lawyers and law firms may also use their client review award in their legal marketing materials.
The client review rating is a great way to showcase your trustworthiness among former clients. It shows that you value the attorney-client relationship and prospective clients can count on you for great representation regarding their legal needs.
How Do I Acquire a Client Review Rating?
To get a client champion rating, you must add client reviews to your profiles on Lawyers.com or Martindale.com. You should direct clients to the “Client Reviews” section of your profile, where they will click Write a Review.
Former clients will then be required to complete a brief survey where they evaluate your services and provide a score of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) regarding your Communication Ability, Responsiveness, Quality of Service, and Value for Money. Clients must select the areas of practice for which they used your firm and have the option of providing written feedback that appears in the review.
Once a client submits a review, they will receive an email requesting verification of the review. A client review will appear on your Martindale and/or Lawyers.com profiles within 24 hours of verification by the reviewer.
Note: the client review process is confidential. Reviewers are given the option to post anonymously or use their first names only. Martindale cannot disclose which former client has submitted a review or whether a specific client has written a review.
Martindale-Hubbell Frequently Asked Questions
We answer some FAQS about Martindale-Hubbell below.
Can I opt out of being reviewed or reviewing others?
Yes. You must contact Martindale’s customer support team to opt out. However, you will no longer be eligible for reviews or to review other lawyers. Your profile will still include existing reviews.
Can I remove reviews that I don’t like?
No. Only Martindale can remove reviews from your profile — and will only do so when a review has inappropriate content that violates its policies. You can report an abusive review through your profile.
You can also respond to negative reviews and provide context for the reviewer’s issues. As a last resort, you can “suppress” your peer reviews by contacting the customer support team. But all scores and feedback will be hidden from searchers.
Does Martindale confirm that reviews are submitted by actual former clients?
Martindale cannot verify whether a former client was an actual client of a lawyer or law firm. However, its client review survey requires reviewers to affirm they used a lawyer or law firm before submitting their reviews. Attorneys who suspect that a review was submitted by a non-client can click the “Report Abuse” button to have Martindale review and consider removing the posting.
LawRank Can Help You Obtain and Manage Your Martindale Ratings and Grow Your Business With Law Firm SEO
Obtaining and managing your ratings on all the ratings sites is daunting. But it is increasingly necessary to elevate your presence online and build trust with prospective clients searching for legal services in your area.
A legal marketing company can obtain and manage your ratings across multiple relevant platforms. Specifically, the best SEO companies for lawyers will utilize your profiles and ratings on sites like Martindale to boost your online presence and your local SEO.
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