Breaking up is hard to do — but if a lyrical genius like Taylor Swift can channel former relationships into chart-breaking hits, then maybe the rest of us can look for some silver linings.
We have just seen our own break-up in the world of legal rankings. Best Lawyers® and U.S. News & World Report announced in June that they were ending their longstanding partnership for the U.S. News — Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings. The joint statement claimed no “Bad Blood” between the two, just time for a change after a decade-long relationship.
The split went into effect on July 31, 2023. On August 1, Best Lawyers turned to a new chapter in their rankings “Love Story” and began managing and hosting Best Law Firms profiles and rankings on a newly launched site, www.bestlawfirms.com.
If you feel like you are always the last to hear about celebrity breakups, do not worry — you are not behind yet! While the new site is already live, the new list does not debut until November 2, 2023. The rebranded list is now Best Law Firms Ranked by Best®, so not a huge change — after all, they have a Reputation to maintain.
What does this mean for your law firm’s ranking and how do you correctly list this newly created recognition? Does this even matter enough to pay attention? Here is everything you need to know before the November 2 embargo date, along with some helpful reminders about compliance so you are not the “Anti-Hero” at your own firm.
Law Firm Profiles
The list and platform appear much more streamlined. Firms that have paid for profiles have a gold-toned “premium” ribbon above their firm names in a search result and appear first in the results.
The landing page of each firm profile contains the firm name at the top and bubbles show the total amount of national rankings and metro rankings, which are listed in their entirety on the rankings tab. Firms with paid profiles have the ability to feature additional tabs that highlight their practice areas, recognized lawyers, client commentary, office locations and contact information.
Links and Methodology
The Best Lawyers team worked to roll over firm information and data to the new site, so law firms and marketers do not have to lift a finger. However, you will have to make sure that any links on your firm’s website are updated to reflect the new URL. This includes the methodology page, which contains the same information as before, because the methodology did not change.
Badges for Purchase
Badges for the Best Lawyers’ 2024 Best Law Firms should still be purchased via the online store. Badges for the 2023 edition or any previous edition are valid through 12 months from the fulfillment date.
Badges must be licensed for use and may not be modified.
The badges have a fresh look that also mirrors the website, with a new color scheme and cleaner format:
Publicity and Compliance
In addition to the URL change, the biggest change is how the list is referenced. When it came to the lengthy accolade, it was time to “Shake It Off.” The correct name of the publication is now “Best Law Firms,” plain and simple.
Any previous references to the list are still accurate — you do not have to do any sort of retroactive modifications to old press releases. But now you can’t simply cut, paste and update the tiers as you may have done before. Chronological references are also still accurate — this is the 14th edition of the list, so they are not starting over from square one with an inaugural list.
These changes are for the 2024 Best Law Firms list and future editions. Here are other publicizing guidelines and examples of how to reference your inclusion from now on:
- Best Law Firms is always plural.
- A registration symbol should be used in the first reference of Best Law Firms, but subsequent mentions in the same document do not require additional marks.
- When publicizing your Best Law Firms accolade online, you must link to your profile or to the homepage.
- Firms are recognized by or distinguished by or included in or named to Best Law Firms — but you are not a “best law firm.” It is also against the guidelines to imply that the award guarantees a desired result.
- Do not use any comparative language that may imply the honored firm is more skilled than firms not included in the rankings.
- When announcing a Best Law Firms recognition, the firm must include the edition number or edition year as well as the tier designation, whether the designation is national or metropolitan, and the practice area(s) in which the award is given.
- If your firm has multiple awards, it is okay to state that number rather than listing each practice, but make sure to correlate the number of rankings to the metro/national designation and specify the tier.
Examples of Correct Citations:
- Smith & O’Keefe has been named a Tier 1 firm in Miami for Tax Law in the 2024 edition of Best Law Firms®.
- Smith & O’Keefe has received a First-Tier ranking in Miami in Tax Law by Best Law Firms® for the 14th edition.
- Smith & O’Keefe has been recognized in the 2024 edition of Best Law Firms® as a Tier 1 national firm in three practice areas.
- Smith & O’Keefe has been included in the 2024 edition of Best Law Firms® with two Tier 1 national rankings and eight Tier 2 metropolitan rankings.
It is important to be mindful of any additional state bar guidelines regarding attorney advertising. For example, in many states, you are not allowed to reference an attorney as an “expert,” say an attorney or firm has “expertise,” or note an area of practice as a “specialization” or “specialty.”
Some states also require any ranking or list to have a well-defined methodology that is linked in proximity to the mention of the accolade. This can become tedious to maintain and lengthy on attorney biographies as well as practice pages, so we recommend a “Ranking and Listings Methodologies Page” on your website where all that information can be stored, linked to and added to as new rankings are obtained.
You should also be mindful of any disclaimers you are required to post regarding attorney advertising. Sometimes this is applicable to the rankings and awards and sometimes specific language is required near any work highlights or matters to indicate that results are not guaranteed.
As a reminder, promoting rankings is not as straightforward as it once was. The legal community has been discussing rules of professional conduct (which vary by state) with a heightened awareness about how consumers perceive law firm and attorney rankings. New Jersey has updated its guidance about advertising rankings news, and many states are likely to adopt similar rules, making them worth a firm’s attention.
For more details, learn more about our initial thoughts about how to assess the credibility of a legal ranking, along with a look at the advertising component of rankings and awards, recent guidelines to be aware of, and our recommendations for promoting rankings in accordance with new guidelines.
We know “All Too Well” that busy legal marketers might recycle prior announcements for the sake of efficiency. Just don’t forget to make these important changes to your marketing materials before the 2024 list launch and double-check them for compliance with state bar organizations where your firm has an office.
If you need any assistance with drafting or reviewing your firm’s Best Law Firms announcement for compliance, checking your website for accuracy, or any other rankings questions, contact Evyan O’Keefe (email@example.com) or Mary Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org).