The Truth About Super Lawyers

It’s easy to be an award-winning attorney these days, you just have to be willing to open your wallet. There are countless empty awards that are created by deceptive companies looking to generate revenue and take advantage of attorneys trying to garner prestige.  Many even take it a step further offering plaques, mugs, and other knick-knacks to purchase at an additional cost.

While these awards are hollow, truth be told, the general public and many of your prospective clients probably don’t know the difference between awards. It would be an oversight on my part to not call out another potential positive that comes from these meaningless awards – a backlink. Many attorney awards will offer a link from their website to yours which likely provides some level of value to your SEO strategy and organic rankings.

That said, a highly engaged and educated consumer that has done their research will likely find one award that stands above the rest, Super Lawyers.

Why Super Lawyers Is Different

Created by Thompson Reuters, the behemoth legal products and services company known for FindLaw and many other platforms. Super Lawyers is their rating service of lawyers across practice areas who have attained a high-degree of professional achievement. While profit-driven, Super Lawyers is a freemium award meaning this truly is merit based. Thompson Reuters is an extremely reputable business and the Super Lawyers award truly means something within the legal community. 

How to Become a Super Lawyer

Now you’re probably asking yourself how does one receive this recognition? Start by being a good attorney. Let your reputation proceed you and results speak for themselves. Results-only won’t cut it though. It’ll help to be well regarded and well-liked within your local legal community as well.

The Super Lawyers Selection Process

Super Lawyers uses a patented selection process that includes nominations, research, and evaluation. This happens once a year on a state-by-state basis across more than 70 practice areas evaluating attorneys from all firm sizes. It should be noted that a point system is used for selections and personal campaigning is prohibited. 

Super Lawyers

Graphic credit: Super Lawyers


Once a year, lawyers are invited to nominate the top attorneys in their state that they have personally observed in action. In order to nominate a coworker attorney, they must match nominations with an out-firm attorney as well. Out-firm nominations have a greater point value in the evaluation and selection process.

Clients, marketing directors, readers, and attorneys who are not eligible to formally nominate may submit informal nominations that do not award points and trigger further research and evaluation by Thompson Reuters.

The Thompson Rueter’s attorney-led research staff does their own search for lawyers who have excelled in their field to discover individuals who may have been overlooked in the nomination process. 

Independent Research

The research department evaluates candidates based on 12 indicators that are not treated equally in regards to points.

  1. Verdicts/Settlements
  2. Transactions
  3. Representative clients
  4. Experience
  5. Honors/Awards
  6. Special licenses/certifications
  7. Position within the law firm
  8. Bar and/or professional activity
  9. Pro Bono and community service
  10. Scholarly lectures/writings
  11. Education/employment background
  12. Other outstanding achievements

Peer Evaluation By Practice Area

The third step of the selection process is peer evaluation by practice area. The candidates in each practice area with the highest point totals from steps one and two above are asked to serve on a blue ribbon panel. The panelists are then provided a list of candidates from their practice areas to review, rating them on a scale of one to five.

Final Selection

Candidates are grouped into firm-size categories to be compared against their peers. Those with the highest point totals from each category are selected. They limit their selection to five percent of the total lawyers in the state.

The Difference Between Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

There are two award designations, Super Lawyers and Rising Stars. 5% of the total lawyers in the state are selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers while only 2.5% are selected to Rising Stars. To be considered for Rising Stars, attorneys must be 40 or younger or have been in practice for 10 years or less.

Super Lawyers Advertising Options

While a reputable award, at the end of the day Super Lawyers is an attorney listing site. All winners are listed and once awarded, recipients remain listed from then on. While the list grows though, it becomes more and more crowded making it less likely for a prospective client to select your profile from a long list of attorneys who all look the same. That’s where Thompson Reuters has monetized this award. Before one can advertise, your profile must be purchased. Purchased profiles allow attorneys to add an image and some additional information. At the time of writing this, I was quoted $174 a month for a single profile.

Once an attorney profile is purchased, there are two premium placements sold to choose from:

  1.  Top Spot: this is limited inventory at the top page and fixed on every page.
  2. Spotlight: this is unlimited inventory and displayed below the Top Spot on the first page only. 
Prices vary and placements are based on one of the over 70 practice areas (i.e. service offerings or keywords) then layered across geographically through counties or state-wide advertising attorneys can select from. 

The Best Place to Bury an Attorney

All three of our own law firms have Super Lawyers or Rising Stars on staff. Colorado Legal Group’s Kelsey Berkley, Joseph Cash, and Hannah Clark, Nebraska Legal Group’s Alyson Ryan and Hannah Sommers, and New Mexico Legal Group’s Matthew Barceleau. Because of this, I am regularly contacted by the Super Lawyers staff. It was my most recent engagement that gave me a good laugh. Their account executive asked me if I knew the best place to bury a dead body. Their response? The second page of Google, and they’re not wrong. What they were not prepared for came next. They then asked me to Google “Denver Divorce Attorney” expecting Super Lawyers to be the #1 organic listing but it wasn’t, our firm Colorado Legal Group was. I couldn’t help myself and asked if they knew a better place to bury an attorney?…the second page of Super Lawyers!

Should Attorneys Advertise on Super Lawyers?

The example above should make it clear that there are more efficient and effective ways to promote your practice and acquire clients than Super Lawyers. Colorado Legal Group in the example above was only a three-year-old firm at the time of our conversation yet ranked #1 organically above Super Lawyers. That goes without mentioning the Google Local Service Ads, Paid Search Ads, and Local Listing that displayed on page one meaning there were four listings of our firm before a prospective client had the chance to click the Super Lawyers search result. From there, our Colorado Super Lawyer Joe Cash would be just one of the dozens of other attorneys on the Super Lawyers listings should I had decided to advertize. I did not.

I’ve found that investing advertising budget in Google Ads (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) attorneys are in much more control of their performance. You are able to more effectively manage placement and provide messaging that differentiates you from the rest. With Super Lawyers, you’re just another profile on a website which is why I have encouraged attorneys to look into other opportunities. With that said, the Super Lawyers designation is an award that does come with benefits, something all high practicing attorneys should pursue.

If you have any questions about marketing and advertising, don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss further and receive a free competitive analysis.