AV Preeminent


An AV® certification mark is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.

AV Ratings Explained

The Ratings Explanation
Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ reflect a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating. A threshold number of responses is required to achieve a rating.
The General Ethical Standards rating denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities. Those lawyers who meet the “Very High” criteria of General Ethical Standards can proceed to the next step in the ratings process – Legal Ability.

Legal Ability ratings are based on performance in five key areas, rated on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest). These areas are:

  • Legal Knowledge – Lawyer’s familiarity with the laws governing his/her specific area of practice(s)
  • Analytical Capabilities – Lawyer’s creativity in analyzing legal issues and applying technical knowledge
  • Judgment – Lawyer’s demonstration of the salient factors that drive the outcome of a given case or issue.
  • Communication Ability – Lawyer’s capability to communicate persuasively and credibly
  • Legal Experience – Lawyer’s degree of experience in his/her specific area of practice(s)

The numeric ratings range may coincide with the appropriate Certification Mark:

  • AV Preeminent® (4.5-5.0) – AV Preeminent® is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
  • BV Distinguished® (3.0-4.4) – BV Distinguished® is an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience. A widely respected mark of achievement, it differentiates a lawyer from his or her competition.
  • Rated (1.0-2.9) – The Peer Review Rated designation demonstrates that the lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing.
Areas of Practice
Martindale-Hubbell uses a specific practice area list in the review process to help ensure that all lawyers are rated upon equivalent practice areas, regardless of how individual lawyers choose to articulate their area of expertise. This allows users of ratings to compare and contrast lawyers with a specific area of practice. The Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ area of practice list is based on user behavior, research on emerging areas of law, and other forms of legal research. Martindale-Hubbell updates the list regularly to reflect the changing needs of the legal industry.
Feedback and Comments
Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ allow reviewers to provide feedback on the lawyer under review. Feedback is displayed anonymously in conjunction with the review results. Lawyers are allowed to place a one-time comment next to any of the feedback. Martindale-Hubbell subscribers are able to highlight two peer feedback comments and position them at the top of their ratings display. Peer Review feedback will be archived after two years.

Peer Review feedback/comments are published for all attorneys who are listed on our Martindale-Hubbell database. Martindale-Hubbell publishes lawyer/firm rating information it has gathered about lawyers/firms and provides a forum for other third parties to share what they’d like to share about any particular lawyer(s) on our websites martindale.com and Lawyers.comSM. The site is not law firm advertising and Martindale-Hubbell is not acting as agent for any lawyer or law firm in publishing this information. Each lawyer/law firm must decide for itself how it wishes to use any Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings information and, as stated in the terms of use, each lawyer/law firm is wholly responsible for ensuring that any use it makes of Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings or of data is compliant with the ethics rules affecting that lawyer/law firm.

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Queens Counsel


In Canada, the honorary title of Queen’s Counsel or QC is used to recognize Canadian lawyers for exceptional merit and contribution to the legal profession.

Queen's Counsel Further Explained

Queen’s Counsel Explained
Queen’s Counsel (postnominal QC), during the reign of a male sovereign known as King’s Counsel (KC), are senior lawyers in various Commonwealth countries.

They are appointed by letters patent to be one of “Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law”. They are not a separate type of lawyer. They are more than long serving lawyers, because their status is given by the Crown and recognised by the courts.

Queen’s Counsel have the privilege of sitting within the Bar of court, and wear silk gowns of a special design (hence the informal title Silks). The special robes are the reason why becoming a QC is often called “taking silk”.

In order to “take silk” a lawyer usually has to serve as a barrister or a Scottish advocate for at least 10 years. Recently solicitors have also been appointed Queen’s Counsel.

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Litigation Council of America


Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network of lawyers.

The Litigation Counsel of America further explained

The Litigation Counsel of America
The Litigation Counsel of America is an invitation-only trial lawyer honorary society established to reflect the new face of the American bar. Membership is limited to 3,500 Fellows, representing less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers. The composition of the LCA is aggressively diverse, with recognition of excellence among American litigation and trial counsel across all segments of the bar. The purpose of the LCA is to recognize deserving, experienced, and highly qualified lawyers, to provide an outlet for scholarly authorship of legal articles on trial and litigation practice, to provide additional sources for professional development, to promote superior advocacy and ethical standards in the practice of law, to assist in community involvement by its membership, and to advance a superior judiciary, by taking relevant positions on issues or legislation affecting judicial compensation and/or benefits, as well as those affecting the American litigation processes.

Fellows are selected and invited into Fellowship after being evaluated for effectiveness and accomplishment in litigation and trial work, along with ethical reputation. The number of full Fellowships has been kept at an exclusive limit by design, allowing qualifications, diversity and inclusion to align effectively. Fellows are generally at the partner or shareholder level or are independent practitioners with twelve or more years experience. The LCA Fellowship also includes Judicial Fellows, Academic Fellows (law professors/legal scholars), Legislative Fellows and In-House Counsel Fellows.  Unless their practice changes from litigation or trial work or their general ethical reputation has been diminished, Fellows may hold their status as long as they desire to be affiliated with the LCA. Fellows who hold such status for seven consecutive years may be designated Senior Fellows. Upon high recommendation by a Fellow, a limited number of Associate Fellows are selected, generally pending qualification for Fellowship. Associate Fellows may include partners or associates from the same firm in which nominating Fellows practice or with any other ethically reputable firm, governmental division or company.

The LCA also recognizes a limited number of accomplished lawyers for inclusion as Honorary Fellows. Practicing, retired or deceased lawyers, judges, elected officials and other distinguished jurists may be nominated by LCA Fellows for such recognition. Honorary Fellows are recognized for career achievements, furthering professionalism and/or diversity in the practice of law, noted trial results, being an influence of regional or national significance in the area of litigation or trial work or any other body of work deemed worthy of high recognition.

With ever-diminishing percentages of cases actually reaching trial, American litigation practice has been redefined. Too often truly effective counsel are overlooked for acknowledgement of expertise and superiority because courtroom experience is now at a premium. While trial experience is an important factor in LCA selection, it is also a fact that great litigators sometimes win before trial.

The LCA publishes the periodic online legal journal Litigation Commentary & Review as an outlet for scholarly legal articles, essays, comments and case notes, as well as LCA Fellow news and events. The subject matter of a Commentary submission may be any legal issue, past or present, providing it is not defamatory or inflammatory toward an individual or group, or is inconsistent or incompatible with the LCA’s diversity policy. Publication of an article may be included in the biographies of members.  To increase firm value, the LCA acknowledges publication of articles and assists in news releases regarding same and responds to media inquiries.

The LCA also cooperates with other trial, litigation and educational organizations in arranging meetings and study groups for Fellows in furtherance of the art of advocacy and the litigation process. Its membership and the authors of articles published in the Litigation Commentary & Review represent widely divergent opinions and viewpoints, which the LCA encourages for the purpose of expanding perspectives in all aspects of the litigation process, both within the honorary society and beyond.

The LCA’s Advisory Board is composed of its membership President, the President-Elect, the Executive Director and General Counsel, and selected LCA Fellows. An executive staff covers all needs of the membership, development, the Litigation Commentary & Review, the LCA Referral Network/CounselShare™, meetings and conferences, and all other operating and general administration services. The LCA also serves as a funding source and provides management and executive support for the Diversity Law Institute (DLI) and the Trial Law Institute (TLI).  The DLI has succeeded the LCA’s original foundation concept as its primary vehicle for humanitarian and charitable legal projects. Since the LCA has and will take meaningful positions and conduct lobbying activities with respect to legislation such as that affecting judicial compensation and benefits, judicial campaign financing and/or other legislation important to the American litigation processes, IRC Reg. Sec. 501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(ii) precludes entitlement to tax-exempt status. Available funds are used to support the DLI and TLI after taking into consideration all taxes, projected future capital and operating expenditures, and reasonable reserves to ensure the continued successful operation of the LCA.  LCA Fellows automatically become members of both the DLI and TLI upon acceptance of their LCA invitation.

The society utilizes a variety of resources for purposes of establishing itself as the most diverse honorary professional society in American law. In this regard, the LCA promotes its membership as a forum where American litigation and advocacy are at the cutting edge of law and judicial understanding.

The LCA’s selection process is a combination of Fellow input, internal research, nominations by Fellows, attorney opinions, evaluation of client selection of counsel, limited input from active and retired judges, and reviews of acknowledgement and recognition by other peer reviewing sources and associations. The diversity sought by the LCA relates to all demographics within law, including race, sex, age and national origin, which it believes will enrich the profession, as well as the scholarly exchange of ideas among its membership. The criteria used for selection is not based purely on the number of cases tried, or the notoriety usually associated with frequent court appearances, but also effectiveness in the area of a particular lawyer’s expertise. In using this approach, the LCA has developed its membership with a breadth of experience in litigation that makes its Fellows one of the most well rounded practice groups among any legal professional society and provides recognition and opportunities to those deserving the designation “Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America.”

Through the Diversity Law Institute, the LCA lends support to worthy causes and charities in furthering its mission.  But the LCA’s role in the community will not be a singular self-involvement.  The LCA will actively work with its membership in promoting the law and society from many different approaches, sources and organizations.  To help Fellows achieve personal goals in their charitable endeavors, the LCA recognizes in the Commentary those members whose contributions to society, culture and the profession warrant grateful acknowledgement.  This is also the basis and purpose for the Peter Perlman Service Awards.  No worthy cause is too small for recognition of a job well done.  The LCA provides information to media outlets for recognition.  Such recognition of members’ accomplishments is deemed by the LCA to be mutually beneficial.  Accomplishments of our Fellows are accomplishments of our own.

The Litigation Counsel of America recognizes and publishes all submitted charitable, community and professional organizations in which its Fellows are affiliated, and where leadership positions are held.  The LCA is proud of the achievements of its membership and looks forward to providing acknowledgement of such admirable and deserving efforts.

The LCA encourages and assists in recognition and publicity of Fellows selected for membership, as well as for publication authorships, positions held, and for accomplishments both in law and society as a whole. Press release formats and assistance are available to Fellows online and through the LCA staff. Firm value is derived from Fellow recognition in the Litigation Counsel of America.

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Law Society of Upper Canada


Created by an act of the Legislative Assembly in 1797, the Law Society of Upper Canada governs Ontario’s lawyers and paralegals in the public interest by ensuring that the people of Ontario are served by lawyers and paralegals who meet high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct.

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Trial Law Institute


The Trial Law Institute (TLI) is an association of trial lawyers established under the auspices of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA). The TLI’s primary purpose is to perpetuate, elevate and preserve the art of trial presentation and techniques, and to advance and educate on new technologies designed to enhance the admission of evidence in courtroom settings.

The Trial Law Institute further explained

The Trial Law Institute

The Trial Law Institute (TLI) is an association of trial lawyers established under the auspices of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA). The TLI’s primary purpose is to perpetuate, elevate and preserve the art of trial presentation and techniques, and to advance and educate on new technologies designed to enhance the admission of evidence in courtroom settings.  Membership includes all LCA Fellows and is open to others invited upon nomination or recommendation by members, but is limited to one percent of the bar, excluding judges, law professors and governmental lawyers.  Membership registration may be found at www.triallawinstitute.org.

The Trial Law Institute (initially the Institute of Trial Presentation) was established in 2009 based on the design of J. Ric Gass, of Gass Weber Mullins LLC of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Lead counsel in over three hundred jury trials, Mr. Gass maintains the goal of educating lawyers on advanced trial techniques learned and created over his long and illustrious career.  In 2012, Mr. Gass served as President of the Litigation Counsel of America and is now Chair of the TLI’s Advisory Board.  In 2013, he was appointed Life Dean of the TLI.

James A. Varner, Sr. (Jim), of McNeer, Highland, McMunn & Varner, L.C., of Clarksburg, West Virginia, and the late Stephen G. Morrison (1949-2013) of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, of Columbia, South Carolina, acted as Co-Founders of the TLI and taught at previous annual TLI Forums.

Though invitation only, the TLI is open to trial lawyers of every practice and orientation.  Its members are called upon to promote professionalism, ethics and civility throughout their practice of law and held to high ethical standards in order to maintain membership.  In the event of ethical concerns or complaints by the association or its members, membership may be withdrawn.  The composition of the TLI’s membership is highly diverse and designed to be inclusive, particularly among the newest generation of outstanding trial lawyers.

The annual Trial Law Institute Forum is the showcase event of the association.  At the Forum, selected trial masters from across North America instruct on advanced courtroom presentation.  The content of the Forum is geared toward a combination of past-generation tried-and-true techniques combined with the newest technologies available.  Although the annual TLI is its primary meeting at this time, future conferences may be expanded to accommodate a two-day event.

Members of the Trial Law Institute who are not already LCA Fellows are reviewed periodically for consideration of LCA Fellowship, which is limited to 3,500 Fellows internationally.

Go to Trial Law Institute

Diversity Law Institute


The Diversity Law Institute (DLI) is an international association of lawyers and law firms committed to diversity in all aspects of the legal profession and justice systems of the United States and Canada.

Diversity Law Institute further explained

Diversity Law Institute

The Diversity Law Institute (DLI) is an international association of lawyers and law firms committed to diversity in all aspects of the legal profession and justice systems of the United States and Canada. Its purpose and mission is to advance the interests of women and minorities in the profession and to aid in the administration of justice where possible. Its membership exceeds 3,200 at this time. Members are from every U.S. state and the provinces of Canada, and also include representatives from Europe and Asia. More information about the DLI may be found at www.diversitylawinstitute.org.

The concept for the DLI originated in 2008 through Litigation Counsel of America (LCA) Executive Director G. Steven Henry, LCA Chief Operating Officer Dottie Henry, and LCA Fellows Charles Griffin (MS) and Rickey McKinney (AL).  The late Jock Smith (AL) of the Cochran Firm was a contributor to the concept beginning in 2009, along with then-LCA President Jack Williams (GA), of Jones Day, whose former  firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP, sponsored the DLI’s first Diversity Summit in Atlanta. Since then, LCA Presidents Sharla Frost (TX), Ric Gass (WI) and Peter Perlman (KY) have helped in expanding the potential elements and influence of the DLI by broadening membership among minority-owned law firms across the U.S.  Official formation of the DLI as a separate association took place in 2011 and, respecting the efforts of other organizations engaging in diversity-based initiatives, thereafter the institute set its sights on focused initiatives deemed purposeful for growth and continuity, with development of additional pro-diversity objectives as its goal.

Membership in the DLI is open to all North American lawyers and law firms, in every area of practice, and is contemporaneous with LCA Fellowship. Law firm memberships, sponsorships and support are encouraged.

In fall 2015, the DLI will hold its third Diversity Summit at a place to be determined. At the DLI’s Diversity Summits in Atlanta and Chicago, speakers presented on a wide variety of candid topics that invited attendee exchanges. The Diversity Summit is designed to educate attendees on serious diversity issues in a manner that will stimulate participation and encourage change in meaningful ways in the profession. This year the DLI will designate winners of Diversity Law Institute Awards in a variety of categories for successes in their inclusion of women and minorities, as well as their efforts in furtherance of diversity in the profession. Diversity Summit attendance is open to both DLI members and non-members. For more information, contact Julia Land at Julia.Land@nulllitcounsel.org.

In 2011, the DLI began work on Law Suits for Justice, a program designed to provide criminal defendants with appropriate courtroom attire for purposes of reducing negative perceptions while on trial. For more information, contact Avery Henry at Avery.Henry@nulllitcounsel.org.

The DLI also coordinates with the Trial Law Institute (TLI) to create through member contributions an archive on jury demographics in jurisdictions throughout North America. For more information on the archive, contact G. Steven Henry at Steve.Henry@nulllitcounsel.org.

For information regarding membership in the DLI or sponsorship of the DLI, contact Avery Henry at Avery.Henry@nulllitcounsel.org.

Go to the Diversity Law Institute