With the recent proliferation of law firm advertising, the general public has probably heard a lot about various awards and qualifications claimed to be achieved by lawyers. But not all so-called “awards” are created equally, and it is worthwhile to ask some questions before accepting an advertised award or achievement at face value.
For example, did you know that some awards are actually purchased from specific organizations for an administrative fee? These organizations are typically formed solely for the purpose of selling such awards, and they rarely have anything to do with the practice of law.
In addition, some awards are presented based on surveys of name recognition, rather than legal expertise. Such surveys are not necessarily indicative of a law firm’s skill in any given area, but rather whether a member of the public has seen their name on a billboard or the side of a bus.
Of course, some awards are legitimately earned. Lawyers with top ratings in Canada are usually nominated by their peers (other lawyers practicing in the same field) for inclusion in well-known publications such as the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory or Best Lawyers in Canada. In addition, lawyers who have achieved top qualifications in their field can apply to the Law Society of Upper Canada to become a Certified Specialist. Not unlike physicians who practice in specialized areas (like cardiology or urology), lawyers with focused practices and extensive experience are also certified as specialists in their particular fields.
If you are looking for a lawyer, make sure to ask questions about awards and achievements. And remember, not all awards are created equally.
Oatley Vigmond is Ontario’s Personal Injury Law Firm. If you or someone you know requires assistance with a personal injury claim, we may be able to help.