My dog is better than your lawyer

Excuse me for bragging, however as State Bar Director Andrew Tolchin announced in a Facebook discussion group for attorneys, S. Roosticus Fischer of my law firm was just nominated by “Lawyers of Distinction” for ranking in the Top 10 percent of all American attorneys.

Unbeknownst to the presenters, Shasharoosticus, although very special, is... my dog. Lawyers of Distinction doesn't care. Pay the $475 for the plaque and you (or your dog) can be the greatest.

Steve Fischer/Facebook

Similarly, I was also awarded “One of the five best family lawyers in the State of Texas.” That, too, sounded good until fellow El Paso attorney Ouisa Davis remarked that she, and it looks like at least five other local attorneys received the same offer. You gotta love El Paso, but when at least six of the five best Texas Family Lawyers are here, something is wrong, and I wasn’t going to pay $200 to fix it.

Some companies allow attorneys to vote on who is best and “Super Lawyers” says no campaigning, but of course it still may happen. Dale Felton, an attorney in Navasota, believes that one attorney paid $45,000 to be featured in their large photo ad. Local newspapers and weekend magazines also solicit votes for best local attorney, just as they do for local restaurants, but the ensuing campaigning among lawyers is not appetizing.

Austin attorney Rekha Akella posts that her old firm emailed all its attorneys saying, “Everyone needs to start an account and vote for so-and-so for this award.” This included urging members to sign into newspapers in places they didn’t live, to vote for local partners there as “Best Attorney.”.

Attorneys know they are taking part in a scam, but laypeople do not and are completely deceived. I find it hilarious when attorneys post on Facebook, “I am so humbled to be honored as one of the top ten attorneys in Texas.” Their friends chime in, “So well deserved!” “I knew you could do it!” “I’m so proud to call you my friend!” Unfortunately, after a few minutes of laughing, I’m struck with a sense of revulsion.

Avvo.com, while not perfect, seems have the best and most thorough methodology. They present client and peer reviews, publications, honors and experience. If you see a “Pro” designation, however, it means those attorneys have paid to be listed first. I use Avvo myself when I need attorneys in distant locations. I like Avvo, and just coincidently, they rate me highly as well.

Well, maybe it’s not such a coincidence, as Houston appellate attorney Scott Rothenberg notes: “Attorneys seem to like the services which rate them the highest.” Okay, so I’m busted. In fact, this column isn’t going well, either for me, or my dog.

Is there a solution? Once again, attorney Dale Felton: “About six years ago a group of lawyers were getting thoroughly sloshed in Katz's on Westheimer in Houston. They took a vote and declared each ‘Voted One of Houston's Top Lawyers.’ They put this on their letterhead and on their websites.”

On a positive note, Fort Worth attorney Stephen Tatum, chairman of the State Bar of Texas Attorney Advertising Committee, will have his members investigate.

This may make Roosticus and I “persona (and dog) non grata” among this industry, and our respective ratings may plummet. We do, however, own a pistachio orchard outside of El Paso, and even though we have several thousand trees, I’m certain we would be dealing with a lot less nuts.

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