Lawyers may not all infest dimly lit moldy offices “like maggots in nuts”, as Charles Dickens wrote, but far too many have a habit of being pompously boastful without reason. Among those are surely lawyers who claim to be “Lawyers of Distinction”.
With inescapable regularity, an Orlando Florida-based company runs ads every year promoting the latest “Lawyers of Distinction”. The newest ad, congratulating the 2023 winners, ran in the Sunday New York Times today, Feb. 26, 2023.
This time there were nine winners listed from Oregon:
- Pamela Blackwell, In-House Counsel, Malarkey Roofing Products, Portland
- Joshua Callahan, Personal Injury Law, The Callahan Law Office, Clackamas, OR
- Alice Cuprill-Comas, Healthcare Law, general counsel for Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR
- Thomas Howe, Howe Law Firm, Portland, OR
- Nicole Lemieux, Personal Injury Law, Portland, OR
- Gregory Oliveros, Criminal Defense Law, ))& Law, Oliveros Law Group PC, Clackamas, OR
- Maryanne Pitcher, Family and Divorce Law, RISE Law Group, Medford, OR
- Phillip Williams, Estate + Injury Attorney, Eugene, OR
- Kali Yost, Disability Rights & Estate Planning, Kali Yost Law, Portland, OR
Lawyers of Distinction says on its website it “Recognizes Excellence in The Practice of Law.”
Sounds impressive, until you dig deeper.
About all that’s required to be named a “Lawyer of Distinction” is to apply yourself or be nominated, fill out some online forms and pay a fee. It’s like diploma mills that claim to be higher education institutions, but only provide illegitimate academic degrees and diplomas for a fee.
“There’s a sucker born every minute,” is a phrase often attributed to P. T. Barnum, an American showman. It’s apparently true with respect to the attorneys who buy “Lawyers of Distinction” memberships as well as members of the public who are misled by them.
The Lawyers of Distinction website makes the application and review process sound complex.
According to the website, it includes a review and vetting process by a Selection Committee. That involves an analysis of a candidate’s work, experience and abilities based upon 12 independent criteria using a platform spelled out under U.S. Provisional Patent #62/743,254. Once a final score is generated, an applicant is subjected a final background check and Ethics Review. Applicants who achieve a minimum passing score and have no disqualifying ethical violations within a 10-year period prior to completion of the application are then eligible for acceptance to Lawyers of Distinction.
Sounds tough and thorough.
Don’t believe it.
Essentially, it’s just pay-for-play. It’s selling badges. It’s paying for meaningless accolades. Apply, pay the annual membership fee and you’re in.
According to the Florida Division of Corporations, “Lawyers of Distinction Inc.” is a private for-profit company with a principal address of 4700 Millenia Boulevard, Suite 175, Orlando, FL 32839.
Robert (Robbie) Brian Baker at the same address is listed as the President in the company’s 2020 Annual Report. But don’t go there expecting to be ushered into an office with a clean, modern aesthetic that communicates success. The address is identified online as nothing more than an “Orlando Virtual Business Address & Live Receptionist Answering Service.”
Lawyers of Distinction is a sign of the overabundance of lawyers, leading some to try to elevate themselves with impressive, but meaningless, awards. The ads the organization places in multiple publications are fake news at its most blatant and deceptive.
Some lawyers may want the Lawyers of Distinction plaque on their wall to bolster their self-esteem, even though in their heart they know the plaque is meaningless piece of junk. Maybe they want to add a plaque to their office brag wall. Maybe the “honor” adds glamour to what some lawyers describe as mind-numbing work.
Whatever their reasons for signing up, Oregon’s lawyers Lawyers of Distinction shouldn’t be proud; they should be embarrassed.