Almost every attorney's website includes a list of achievements by the attorney. Some attorneys include their accomplishments from law school. Other attorneys show their involvement in volunteer organizations. Because all U.S. attorneys went to law school, listing awards and recognitions may be a way for an attorney to demonstrate their interest in a particular field or topic.
What's Wrong With Most Attorney Ratings
Attorney ratings receive a great deal of criticism for several reasons:
- Many attorney recognitions are available for purchase. There is a cottage industry for vanity plaques and badges which have no real selection criteria. These awards look and sound very fancy, but they don't mean anything and they tend to dilute the value of the few ratings agencies which are legitimate because they seem so similar
- Some ratings services promote their recognitions as purely peer review, meaning that recognized attorneys were selected through a vote of other attorneys and sometimes judges. The idea is that professional peers have the most knowledge and insight about who among them is the best. The problem is that these ratings are something of a popularity contest, meaning 1. attorneys who are not otherwise worthy may be selected because they are well-liked, and 2. attorneys who are excellent lawyers may not be selected because their competitors will not vote for them
- The most legitimate organizations are highly selective, so only a small percentage of practicing lawyers are recognized at any given time. Lawyers who were not selected sometimes criticize all recognizing bodies as illegitimate out of jealousy or spite, contributing to the difficulty of distinguishing between the fake ratings and the real ones
Legitimate Attorney Ratings
There are at least three types of legitimate attorney ratings and recognitions:
1. Invitation-only colleges and academies. These are organizations which promote a certain type of legal work at a very high level. Some of these organizations have very specific experience, education and reference requirements, and they may also require attorneys to pass an examination or an interview to be admitted. For example, the American College of Trial Lawyers is an invitation-only organization reserved for only the very best trial lawyers in North America. The International Academy of Family Lawyers is an invitation-only organization for family law attorneys who have a substantial international component to their practice. Likewise, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has a demanding application, examination and interview process which takes most of a year to complete.
2. Board certification. Some states have board certification for specific areas of law, and there are a few national organizations, such as the National Board of Trial Advocacy, which have processes for board certification. Board certification generally means the attorney has a minimum amount of experience (such as 5 or 10 years of practice), passed a background check, and, most importantly, passed a written test. Some states, including Oklahoma, do not have specialization or board certification because board certification exposes the failure of law schools to fully prepare attorneys to practice and it threatens attorneys who hold themselves out as practitioners in a particular area of law but could not pass a background check or a written exam about that field. However, the United States Supreme Court has held that states cannot prevent attorneys from showing that they are board certified if the board certification is true and legitimate.
3. Some peer review ratings agencies. Each ratings agency has a unique methodology for obtaining nominations and votes by other attorneys and judges. The methodologies are proprietary and private, making peer review ratings vulnerable to criticism since they are hard to differentiate from the fake ratings which may be purchased. Some of the most well-known, legitimate peer review ratings in the United States are Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers. Chambers is another legitimate, exclusive ratings service which originated in the United Kingdom and is now global.
There is another way to view an attorney's interests and quality: the organizations they are involved in. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Trial Lawyers College, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy all provide some of the best available skills training for trial lawyers, especially for trial lawyers who practice family law. An attorney who is actively involved in these organizations and attends their educational seminars will likely have more knowledge and skill than an attorney who does not.
Why List Our Awards and Recognitions?
The purpose of listing our accolades, recognitions and involvement is to give the public some objective information about our knowledge, skill and ability.
Aaron Bundy, Kathleen Egan, Michelle Thuillier and Danya Bundy have each been recognized by Super Lawyers. Aaron Bundy is a certified fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and he is board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy for family law trials. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers and by Martindale-Hubbell. Aaron has been associated twice with the Oklahoma Bar Association's "Earl Sneed Award" for providing excellent continuing legal education to other attorneys -- once as a co-recipient in 2017, and once with a small group of family law section leaders.
Each attorney is an involved member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. This means that when the attorney is not in trial or preparing for trial, the attorney is in training and professional development seminars to further refine and hone their advocacy skills.
We are often hired as the second, third or even the fourth lawyer in cases that have languished for a number of reasons. We pick up the case and get it ready for trial and try it. The comments we receive about the 180˚ difference in the client experience are directly related to our skills training and methodology, and our ratings and professional recognitions are reflections of our work. Our entire purpose is to provide the highest level of service and advocacy for each client.