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  • Diana Schneidman

This is about the law and sausages so don’t look

Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.”

I propose updating this quotation, attributed to Otto von Bismarck (and in a slightly different form to John Godfrey Saxe), to keep pace with internet marketing: “Lists of the best lawyers are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.”

Yesterday I received an email from a lawyer asking me to vote for him as the best attorney in a neighboring town. It was a brief email and it would have been even briefer if he had not used perhaps a 22-point font.

Who’s the best attorney in town and how would I know?

It gave no reason whatsoever as to why he was nominated and why he deserved to win. (Maybe he nominated himself?)

So I looked at his website, which had nothing about this campaign. Nor did it describe any awards (or cases) he had won or any benefits of using his services (except that he had practiced for over 30 years, which is a feature, not a benefit, if we are going to get technical here). I have never availed myself of his legal services nor have I ever been to his office nor has anyone praised him to me.

I’ve attended meetings where he was also present and have traded business cards with him, so this is clearly where he got my email address. Probably brought out a big stack of cards he has collected and had a temp scan or type them in.

The email itself was highly informative. It warned me that I could vote only 10 times per email address and provided a handy link to the voting site. And it asked me to “please share with your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn friends” by clicking the social media links at the top of the email. (By the way, nothing about these votes driving any charitable donations.)

Not only do I not live in his suburb, but I don’t subscribe to the magazine running the contest. I am mildly curious to see if he wins but more as an observer of internet marketing than a connoisseur of legal services.

What bothers me is that now that I’ve seen the campaign, I have no respect for the eventual list.

And this makes me more wary about all sorts of lists and awards. In the internet age, more than ever, it’s caveat emptor when we search out professional “stars.”

Originally posted 6-13-10

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