Posted by Utah Criminal Lawyer Stephen Howard
Guess what?! I just found out that I may be the best criminal lawyer in Utah. Or even in all America!! And not only that, I may have also just won the Nigerian national lottery!
To claim my lottery winnings, all I have to do is pay a “processing fee” of a couple of thousand dollars and send some personal information to some stranger (who, coincidentally, works in a foreign bank and has access to millions of dollars in forgotten money that he can get for me too). In order to claim my recognition as one of the top attorneys in Utah, I only have to pay a few hundred dollars as “dues” for membership in the recognizing organization.
We all know that the Nigerian lottery emails are a total scam. But what about the letters that attorneys receive telling them that they have been named as one of the best attorneys in their state or major practice area?
Fairly frequently, I receive letters in the mail from various organizations informing me that I have been named as one of the “top” or “best” attorneys in Utah. The letters typically congratulate me on being one of the “top 10” best lawyers or a “leader” in a certain legal field, such as criminal defense. The letters also inform me that in order to accept this recognition, I only have to send in payment of a few hundred dollars as “dues” for membership in their organization.
In exchange for paying my dues, I will receive membership in their “prestigious” organization. I also receive the right to display their organization’s logo on my website – a logo which proclaims to all the world that I am one of the best attorneys in Utah.
Perhaps the most entertaining communications from these organizations are letters indicating that they want to recognize me as one of “best” attorneys in another state, like Kansas – a state in which I have never practiced law – or informing me that I have been named as one of the “10 best” attorneys in Utah – but in a practice area in which I do not do any significant work. Given that certain of these organizations sometimes mistakenly believe that I practice in a state other than Utah or that I practice in areas of law that I do not deal with, I have never chosen to pay to accept their “honors.”
Recognizing an attorney for excellence and achievement is appropriate. But when receipt of an “award” or other recognition appears to be based on an attorney’s willingness to pay a fee rather than on the reputation of the attorney or the quality of the attorney’s work, it raises serious questions.
But then again, maybe I really did win the Nigerian lottery. . . .