Beware of Awards-They may be Fake

An Award can be defined as:

“a prize or other mark of recognition given in honor of an achievement”

Fake can be defined as:

“a thing that is not genuine; a forgery or sham”

There is an increasing trend where attorneys are being sold “fake awards”.  Attorney’s then use these fake awards to market their business, which misleads the consumer into thinking that the award was earned based on merit.

To receive many of these “awards” typically all you need to do is pay a small fee, more if you want a fancy plaque. These awards are not based on any credentials, results or merit. I know this because I have received “Best Attorney”, “Top 10 Trial Attorney”, “Top 1 Percent Lawyer”, “CNY Top Lawyer” or, as seen below, I am considered a “Lawyer of Distinction”.

The problem is…I’m not even a lawyer! I have never requested information on these awards or applied for them.

However, all I have to do is pay $395+ to get a fancy plaque to display in my office so that potential customers can be misled to think that I am an attorney or it could be used in the office and on social media to increase my business.

Below is a list of the paid awards that I consider to be scam since they are not based merit or qualifications:

 

  • American Institute of Legal Counsel – SCAM
  • American Institute of DUI/DWI Attorneys – SCAM
  • American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys – SCAM
  • American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys – SCAM
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys – SCAM
  • National Academy of Family Law Attorneys – SCAM
  • National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys – SCAM
  • National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys – SCAM
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum – SCAM
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum – SCAM
  • Best Attorneys of America – SCAM
  • American Academy of Attorneys – SCAM
  • American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys – SCAM
  • American Society of Legal Advocates – SCAM
  • Lawyers of Distinction – SCAM
  • National Academy of Jurisprudence (formerly American Academy of Trial Attorneys) SCAM
  • National Academy for DUI Defense – SCAM
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel – SCAM
  • National League of Renowned Attorneys – SCAM
  • Top American Lawyers – SCAM
  • American Jurist Institute – SCAM
  • America’s Top 100 Attorneys – SCAM

So the debate for me is, if you receive an award for which you have paid for, is that really an award? Or it is just paid advertisement? I am OK with it being paid advertisement, as I do understand the potential benefits, however, there should be a disclaimer provided just as you have to provide a disclaimer on other forms of marketing, so as not to mislead people.

These awards are used as “trust signals” for the consumer, however, if they are paid vs. earned on merit…wouldn’t that be considered misleading to the consumer? And, if you are misleading the consumer isn’t that considered to be unethical? Essentially, if I had the money and didn’t have any issues with morality, I could purchase these awards and be the best fake lawyer in America, and trick the consumer into calling me, without even being a lawyer?  So if these attorneys don’t care about misleading you as to their qualifications, how much will they actually care about you and your case versus your wallet?

The truth is that most attorneys who consistently go to court, don’t bother with fake awards because the reality is they don’t need them.   Someone with integrity, would never purchase these awards and then promote the awards as being earned. As they say, good lawyers are not cheap, but lawyers who are unethical may cost you everything – so be careful when choosing.

Some attorneys are even tricking google and providing fake reviews, so if they simply say “check out our reviews“, be cautious.

Ensure that any awards on display are based on merit. Don’t believe me? The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has warned consumers about the use of such legal awards.

BBB believes many of these honors – often used by attorneys in advertising or on their websites – are no more than vanity awards, and may have little to do with a lawyer’s standing or professional ability.  In several cases, the organizations making the awards require that the honoree purchase a plaque, trophy or membership package.”

If you find yourself in a position where you need to hire a lawyer, my suggestion is to do your research on that lawyer, ask for references, referrals, but don’t be impressed by awards on display.

Three of the most important things to consider when determining who will represent you are:

  1.  Will they advocate for you and make the income received secondary?
  2.  Will they represent your best interests, not theirs?
  3.  Will they work hard for you and deliver on the work that they promise?

In closing, the take away is simple; Good attorneys or companies do not need fake awards OR to consistently remind people of these awards to gain your business. If they do, be aware that they may care more about reeling you in as a customer than helping you with your legal matters.

Disclaimer: By referring to these as “scams” I am not implying that they are doing anything illegal. I am not saying that they don’t deliver what they promise to their members. They do, and the product they deliver is a phony “award.” A phony “award” you have to pay for which comes in the form of a generic graphic, a meaningless plaque, and a misleading unverifiable claim that you are better than other lawyers. I use the word “scam” as a matter of opinion. I am simply pointing out that they are totally bogus. They use questionable marketing strategies to mislead consumers and trick them into purchasing something that has no intrinsic value.