11 min read
Updated: June 17, 2022

How to Get AV-Rated by Martindale-Hubbell

There was a time when Martindale-Hubbell was probably one of the most widely used reference books in a firm’s law library.

The heavy volumes were not only the simplest way to locate law firms and attorneys, but they were also full of other useful information.

That leather-bound book contained summaries of the laws in every U.S. state, as well as many foreign countries.

Need to refer a client to an estate planning attorney in Michigan?

Check Martindale-Hubbell.

Need to find out about the statute of limitations for a personal injury case in Ohio?

Check Martindale-Hubbell.

Need to know the Service of Process rules in Canada?

You guessed it—check Martindale-Hubbell.

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Martindale-Hubbell in the 21st Century

Today, Martidale-Hubbel is an online database that provides background information on lawyers and law firms in the United States and other countries. It contains the profiles of over one million lawyers and firms globally.

The database allows users to search for lawyers based on factors like geography, specialty, language, and law school. Its peer reviews and peer review rating system are invaluable tools for attorneys to grow their clients by promoting their robust track records of professional excellence.


History of the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory

James B. Martindale founded The Martindale Directory in 1868 with the goal of furnishing lawyers, merchants, real estate agents, and bankers with the address of a single reliable attorney, real estate office, banker, etc. in every U.S. city.

In 1930, the company acquired the rights to Hubbell’s Legal Directory, which was an existing law digest for each U.S. state. In 1990, Martindale-Hubbell law directory was purchased by LexisNexis and eventually that one or two volumes of data exploded into 26 volumes and a directory of over 1 million attorneys.

In 2014, Martindale-Hubbell became part of Internet Brands, and in 2018, Internet Brands rebranded its legal group under the name “Martindale-Avvo.” This is interesting because Martindale and Avvo use similar methods for compiling their attorney ratings.

How do Martindale-Hubbell Ratings Work?

The Martindale-Hubbell rating that most attorneys post on their websites is a peer review rating. In other words, they are based on what other attorneys think of them, not clients. While few potential clients care about what another attorney thinks of you, they will probably be impressed by a badge that shows you’ve attained the “highest marks,” or an AV Preeminent rating.

So, how does this work? First, you’ll need a profile on Martindale.com. If you don’t already have one, you can create one.

highest level of professional excellence on martindale website

The next step is to request that Martindale begin the peer nomination process. While you don’t have to be a subscriber to do this, the site makes it easier for subscribers by giving them direct access to the Peer Reference Nomination Tool. Otherwise, you’ll need to email the company.

Next, you should have a compiled list of 20-25 (or more) attorneys and judges that are familiar with your legal abilities that you can list as peers. Each party you include must also be listed on Martindale.com to participate in the process.

Finally, Martindale suggests that you reach out to each of your listed peers to let them know an email message from Martindale will be forthcoming.

Your peer review ratings are based on several factors:

  • General Ethical Standards – This rating relates to your adherence to professional standards of conduct as well as diligence, reliability, and ethics. The desired rating is V for “Very High.”
  • Legal Ability Ratings – This rating considers the professional abilities of the attorney in their practice areas, their expertise, and other professional qualifications. The three possible ratings are C = Good to High, B = High to Very High, and A = Very High to Preeminent.

Peer-Reviews on martindale.com

When a sufficient number of peer ratings are returned, an average rating is provided. There are three possibilities:

  • CV® Peer Review – This is the maximum rating a lawyer can receive after being admitted to the bar for 3-4 years. It is a confirmation of unquestionable ethics and above-average ability.
  • BV® Peer Review Rating – This is the maximum rating a lawyer can receive after being admitted to the bar for 5-9 years. It is considered an excellent rating for an attorney with more years of experience.
  • AV® Peer Review Rating – Once an attorney has been admitted to the bar for 10 or more years, they are eligible for this rating. It is the highest mark of achievement with Martindale.

How to Get AV-Rated by Martindale-Hubbell

There are a few ways to this legal profession rating:

  1. Use a Peer Reference Nomination tool directly from Martindale-Hubbell. You just have to contact customer support to receive it.
  2. Submit a list of peers are already listed in the database. Those on your list must be members of the bar for at least three years and have a profile on Matindale-Hubbell.
  3. Martinedale-Hubbels can send a peer review survey to a mix of attorneys both included and not included on your reference list.

The length of this peer review process depends on how long it takes to gather references and for them to complete the ratings.

Martindale Client Ratings Are Different

Martindale ratings used to be entirely based on peer reviews, but this has changed. Consumer preferences demand that there be more opportunities to read about the experiences of former clients as well.

Now, a Martindale-Hubbell attorney search also provides users with client review ratings. Clients are asked to complete surveys that rate the attorney on a scale of 1 to 5 in four categories: Communication Ability, Quality of Service, Value for Money, and Responsiveness. Clients can also provide additional written feedback in a review.

Martindale-Hubbell rating categories

In addition to the reviews being available on your profile, Martindale also has an annual Client Championship awards program, which delivers three levels of awards (Silver, Gold, & Platinum) based on client reviews.

client review screenshot on martindale

Is Pursuing a Martindale Rating Worth the Effort?

While the Martindale-Hubbell rating seems like a lot of effort, it may be worth some headaches thanks to the broad reach you’ll receive. Now that a single company owns so many legal directories, Martindale claims that it is posting the same profile information on Lawyers.com as well as Nolo.

Martindale also offers quite a few upsells, such as lead generation and website building services, which we don’t recommend. These are incredibly costly and won’t provide you with the best return on your legal marketing dollars, which brings us to the next point…

The Importance of Promoting Law Firms in Online Directories

Legal directories are some of the simplest and most effective ways for attorneys to grow their online presence and get valuable backlinks. They not only enhance your law firm’s online presence but also help build brand awareness and help your business get discovered online.

Many directories rank well in search engines, increasing a law firm’s footprint in Google search results. Using directories like Matindale-Hubbell also allows lawyers to engage in barnacle SEO. This digital marketing strategy entails attaching a firm to another website that ranks well for the firm’s desired keywords or related topics, ultimately increasing exposure and leads.

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About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
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