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Super Lawyers Directory: Review and Guide

September 5, 2022
14 min

Have you been spending your downtime conducting searches like "Is Super Lawyers legit?" or "Super Lawyers requirements for review"? Want to know how to become a Super Lawyer? Do you find yourself asking questions such as "What Are Super Lawyers?"

If any of this sounds familiar, Grow Law Firm's comprehensive guide to the Super Lawyers directory contains precisely the sort of information that you have been looking for. Unlike your standard guide that covers the basics of a platform or product, this hybrid article also contains a review of this hugely popular rating service for law firms.

In the guide below, we not only tackle common questions like "Is Super Lawyers legitimate?" but we also discuss whether the website can actually help you connect with prospective clients. Our experts even provide step-by-step instructions for making the most of the Super Lawyers platform.

What Is Super Lawyers and How Does It Work?

Super Lawyers is a rating platform designed for attorneys. Unlike other lawyer ratings platforms, Super Lawyers does not simply allow past clients to provide feedback on the capabilities of attorneys.

Instead, it is a peer recognition platform that gives other lawyers the opportunity to rate their cohorts and nominate attorneys for professional achievement awards.

To date, Super Lawyers has compiled ratings and peer evaluations on thousands of attorneys across over 70 different practice areas. This data allows potential clients that are in search of outstanding lawyers to conduct queries based on an attorney's average rating and practice area.

The result is a seamless search process that helps those in need of legal services find a law firm efficiently and effortlessly.

The Super Lawyers selection process is actually quite stringent. In order to even be considered for recognition on the Super Lawyers directory, law firms or attorneys must receive peer nominations. However, peer nominations alone will not allow law firms to join the Super Lawyers ranks.

After receiving nominations, Super Lawyers will conduct its own independent research. The team will assign candidates points based on several different indicators. They will then make a decision as to whether to award an attorney Super Lawyer status.

How Can a Lawyer Benefit from SuperLawyers Directory?

There are several ways that your law firm can leverage the Super Lawyers directory. We have outlined a few such tactics below:

Mention SuperLawyers Listing on Your Website

The most obvious way to market your Super Lawyers listing is to promote it directly on your website.

You can incorporate the Super Lawyers listing into your law firm website content in several different ways. One approach involves actually adding the Super Lawyers badge to each of your web pages. Additionally, you can mention that you are listed on Super Lawyers in your "About Us" content.

Before you mention your listing on your website, there are a few issues you should consider. First, how confident are you regarding the quality of your Super Lawyers listing? Have you received a large volume of recognition or a highly sought-after Super Lawyers designation? If so, then marketing your listing is an excellent idea.

If you are not sure whether to fully embrace Super Lawyers across your entire site, take a look at your competition. See if any other law firms in your area are advertising their own listings. If so, then you could take this as a form of social proof that there is some usefulness in marketing your Super Lawyers listing.

Additionally, we suggest speaking with current and past clients. Find out how many of them have heard of Super Lawyers. This feedback will tell you a lot about the platform's overall visibility among your core demographic of customers.

Make no mistake — this review and guide is by no means an endorsement of Super Lawyers, nor is it meant to outright discourage you from using it.

Our experts wanted to outline exactly what the platform is and what it isn't so that you can make an informed decision. If you are lukewarm on the directory or think it is an outright waste of time, there is nothing wrong with focusing on mainstream brand-building tactics.

Super Lawyers Directory for Marketing

If you are a big fan of Super Lawyers and want to make the most of the platform, you should consider using its built-in paid marketing tools.

You can target potential clients with paid advertisements directly on the platform. These campaigns can sometimes be less costly than standard lawyer pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. The downside is that they have nowhere near as much reach as a search engine like Google.

When you're considering whether to use the paid advertising features on the directory, the biggest factor that you should take into account is your law firm marketing budget. If engaging in paid search on the platform will detract from your other PPC efforts, it may not be a good idea to move forward with a Super Lawyers campaign.

However, if you have a little extra wiggle room and want to explore other outreach opportunities, Super Lawyers might be a good addition to your existing marketing tactics.

Super Lawyers Directory and Paid Advertising

To be completely transparent, advertising on Super Lawyers can be a bit tricky — to say the least. Whereas platforms like Google allow you to set up campaigns and start advertising right away, Super Lawyers requires you to jump through a few extra hoops.

To reiterate, some law firms might feel like navigating these nuances is a worthwhile investment of their time and resources, whereas others will not.

The first step to advertising on the platform is purchasing your profile. Several years ago, Thomson Reuters monetized Super Lawyers' awards. Put simply — Super Lawyers is now part of Thomson Reuters.

Once the platform's team approves an award nomination, they will create a profile for you and add you to the directory. However, you have very little control over this profile unless you purchase it.

Purchasing a profile can cost up to a few hundred dollars a month in some instances. After your profile has been purchased, you can then pay additional fees to launch advertising campaigns on the platform.

Due to the complexities of this system, many lawyers prefer to hire PPC services for attorneys. These services can produce measurable results quickly and do not require attorneys to purchase profiles or perform other precursor steps.

Super Lawyers Directory and SEO

Should you elect to mention Super Lawyers on your website, in your content, and on your law firm social media platforms, you are contributing to the platform's search engine optimization efforts.

If these actions lead clients straight to your listing, then your efforts will benefit both your firm and the platform. However, you must tread lightly when engaging in SEO geared towards routing traffic to the Super Lawyers directory.

When Thomson Reuters provides you with the embedded code that allows you to display the Super Lawyers icon on your website, keep in mind that the code also connects your site with theirs.

While this may not seem like a major concern at first, remember that prospective clients on your site could be routed to Super Lawyers by clicking on the icon. This occurrence could cause them to search for other lawyers in your service area. Who knows — they might even decide to go with one of your competitors instead of your firm.

Once again, this is not meant to discourage you from using Super Lawyers. However, like any relationship, it should be managed carefully to ensure that it is delivering optimal benefits to your firm.

If you are not sure when, how, or how often to engage in SEO tactics that showcase third-party entities like Super Lawyers, consider partnering with an experienced marketing agency that specializes in SEO for law firms. Such an agency could help you increase your own online visibility while ensuring that you do not inadvertently route traffic to your competitors.

A great partner will provide you with regular updates on the state of your SEO campaign. They will also offer monthly feedback so that you can see precisely what results your investment is producing.

Super Lawyers Nomination Process

Want to get your law firm listed on Super Lawyers? If so, then you must have a strong understanding of the nomination process. Getting nominated can be a challenge all its own. Being added to the list requires a high degree of commitment and quite a bit of patience.

Practicing attorneys receiving their first nomination are typically referred to as "rising stars." Despite the name, nominees may include new lawyers and very experienced attorneys. We have broken every phase of the nomination and selection process below so that you know what to expect during the Super Lawyers screening protocols.

Choosing the Candidates

The first step to joining the ranks of 2023 Super Lawyers is to make it into the pool of candidates. Attorneys can become candidates in one of three ways.

The first method involves acquiring formal nominations. Naturally, Super Lawyers has established several rules outlining who can make nominations. They also have a scoring system for the nominations in order to promote a fair evaluation process.

Attorneys can only nominate attorneys in the same state they are licensed in. While Super Lawyers has not confirmed this, it is believed that nominations submitted from attorneys that work at the same law firm as a candidate are worth fewer points than nominations from lawyers employed by different firms.

Despite this bias control measure, attorneys can still nominate their coworkers. As a result, attorneys working at large firms can receive multiple nominations from their coworkers to pad their scores. This setup has the potential to skew results.

The second nomination method involves Super Lawyers' in-house team of experts. Periodically, these individuals will scour the internet in search of "rising stars" across the nation.

When searching for up-and-coming attorneys, the team will review national publications, local magazines, legal directories, and other sources. They will then add a pre-determined number of individuals to the candidate pool.

The third and final way that candidates can join the pool is via informal nominations. An informal nomination is a nomination that is submitted by directory users, past clients, or attorneys located in a state other than the one in which the nominee is licensed. For instance, if an attorney who was licensed in California nominated a lawyer in Oregon, this would be considered an informal nomination.

Despite being referred to as informal nominations, the Super Lawyers team will still consider these nominees during the screening process. However, they are under no obligation to do so.

Furthermore, it is unclear how often Super Lawyers adds candidates to the pool based on informal nominations. Therefore, this is the path of most resistance for those interested in becoming a member of the platform.

Assessing the Candidates

Presumably, assessing the candidates is the most complex aspect of the vetting process. According to Super Lawyers, their assessment team considers a variety of different rating factors to determine which candidates will be added to the directory.

Many of these factors can be grouped into one of two large categories: transactions and settlements/verdicts.

Additionally, Super Lawyers will analyze how many clients the applicants have previously represented. They will also consider community service activities, experience, awards, education, employment history, special licenses, and general professional activity.

Unfortunately, Super Lawyers is pretty secretive regarding the weight that is given to each grading criterion. This opaqueness can make it difficult to understand exactly how candidates are chosen or which factors have the most influence on the selection process.

Those not selected are given little insight as to why, which can further discourage participation in the process.

Rating from Peers

After Super Lawyers has assessed candidates, the members of the applicant pool will have a chance to rate each other. This setup is far from the most objective way to process applicants, as they will be tempted to rate individuals from their own firms higher than those from other businesses. As you can see, there is a clear conflict of interest.

Selection and Publishing

Once all evaluations have been completed, Super Lawyers will make their selections. Candidates will be grouped into categories based on the size of the law firm that they work for. This grouping is meant to ensure that firms of all sizes are fairly represented in the directory.

Before making final selection decisions, Super Lawyers will contact local or state licensing authorities for each candidate. They will ensure that prospects are in good standing with these entities so that the directory does not inadvertently advertise unscrupulous providers.

After the final phase of vetting is complete, the directory will contact nominees to verify contact information. They will then publish the selected individuals' information in the directory.

Super Lawyers has a highly competitive award known as "Rising Stars." Only a few attorneys from each state can win this award. In order to be eligible, applicants must have been practicing law for fewer than ten years or be no older than 40.

The Rising Stars list is published annually. Conversely, Super Lawyers will complete several general selection processes every year. Once added to the directory, attorneys will remain there indefinitely.

Attorneys who have made the list will automatically receive a standard profile. However, they can purchase their profile, which will upgrade them to "Platinum" status. Only platinum profile holders can advertise on the platform.

Jurisdiction Rules About Nominations

Before you nominate someone for Super Lawyers, solicit nominations for yourself, or put that badge on your website, make sure that your state bar approves of these activities.

While our team could not confirm any instances of state ethics boards prohibiting the use of the Super Lawyers icon on attorney websites, several are very restrictive concerning this behavior. The last thing that you want to do is get yourself in hot water with your state bar.

Of the various state ethics boards that have issued guidance on marketing a Super Lawyers directory, New Jersey has been one of the most strict. While the board allows attorneys to inform clients that they made the cut, they must explain what the title is.

With that in mind, thoroughly review ethics board guidelines in your state. If you cannot find any definitive guidance, it may not hurt to send an email or make a phone call, just to be safe. Remember, you must adhere to all ethics board guidelines when advertising your Super Lawyers listing on your website and any social media platforms.

Since we are on the topic of ethics, you may want to review general lawyer advertising rules and regulations while you are at it. Not sure where to begin? Don't worry; Grow Law Firm has created a comprehensive list of rules you need to know when advertising your legal services.

Super Lawyers vs. Avvo vs. Justia

Super Lawyers is by no means the only game in town when it comes to online legal directories. Two of the most popular options out there are Avvo and Justia. The question is, how does Super Lawyers stack up to these other directories?

Where Super Lawyers sets itself apart from these alternatives is in its exclusivity. This exclusivity means that you are competing against a smaller number of attorneys on the platform. The downside, as outlined above, is that getting on the list is a process — and a lengthy one at that.

Conversely, you can join Avvo and Justia in minutes. Both options allow you to create free accounts without jumping through any crazy hoops. Like Super Lawyers, these other directories also give you the opportunity to upgrade to a premium account. A premium account unlocks additional tools and also allows you to advertise on the directories.

To sum things up, Avvo and Justia are not only easier to join, but they offer just as many benefits as Super Lawyers, if not more. With that in mind, we recommend joining both platforms, even if you decide to pursue a Super Lawyers' listing as well. You can also read our review of Justia for lawyers and Avvo lawyer marketing guide.

Final Thoughts: Is the Super Lawyers Directory Right for Your Firm?

Now that we have wrapped up our Super Lawyers review and guide let's turn our attention to perhaps the most important questions you should be asking regarding this legal directory. Should you pursue the Super Lawyer award or devote an untold amount of time and resources to get your law firm added to the Super Lawyers list?

While earning the designation of a Super Lawyers Rising Star can certainly do wonders for your business, the truth is the Super Lawyers nomination process can be complex and tedious to navigate. With that in mind, you should only work on becoming rated by Super Lawyers after you have implemented a well-rounded marketing strategy.

If you are ready to take your law firm to the next level, Grow Law Firm's high-performance digital marketing agency for attorneys can help you do just that.

Contact our team to learn more about our search engine optimization, PPC, and website-building services for lawyers. We can even help you decide whether participating in the Super Lawyers selection process is a smart move for your firm.

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    Sasha serves as Managing Partner for Grow Law Firm, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency focused solely on specialized growth strategies for attorneys and their practices.

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