Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of bar members and the judiciary, and attest to the individual lawyer's legal ability and adherence to professional standards of ethics. Exclusive to the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, ratings are accepted as exceptionally valuable benchmarks by members of the legal community, and testify to the unique and respected position the Law Directory occupies in the legal profession. They are intended for the use of lawyers and law firms in the practice of their profession.
Martindale-Hubbell solicits confidential opinions from members of the Bar, including those who have ratings and those who do not. In addition, members of the Judiciary are queried. Opinions are solicited via written questionnaires and by Martindale-Hubbell representatives who conduct interviews.
Ratings fall into two categories: Legal Ability and General-Ethical Standards. Unless a rating is established in both categories, no rating is published.
The Legal Ability Ratings (C, B, A) take into consideration the standard of ability for the area where the lawyer practices, the attorney's expertise, nature of practice and qualifications relevant to the profession. Where a lawyer's practice is limited or specialized, rating opinions are made on the basis of performance in those specific fields of law.
The General-Ethical Standards Rating (V) covers adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities.
In the United States, 43% of the active bar is rated. Omission of individual lawyer ratings should not be construed as unfavorable since Martindale-Hubbell does not undertake to develop ratings for every lawyer. In addition, certain lawyers have requested their ratings not be published. In other instances, definitive information required to establish a rating has yet to be developed.
Ratings reflect career development.
A lawyer's Rating will generally improve over time. But Ratings can be revised downward, or even removed if a decline is noted in ability or ethical standards.
- A CV Rating is an excellent first Rating and a statement of a lawyer's above average ability and very high ethics.
- A BV Rating is an indication of an exemplary reputation and well-established practice. A typical lawyer is in mid-career, with a significant client base and high professional standing.
- An AV Rating shows that a lawyer has reached the height of professional excellence. He or she has usually practiced law for many years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity.
- A (T) after the AV, BV or CV Rating indicates that the rating was established in another state or province. Ratings are generally transferable within state boundaries, and can also be transferred inter-state or inter-province, with the (T) symbol, indicating the rating was established in another jurisdiction.