I am enjoying watching some of my colleagues battling for various Ms. Congeniality awards fostered by an endless supply of vendors who constantly dream up new ways to create a little business and revenue for themselves.
It seems several new opportunities for paid self-promotion crop up each year. “Best Divorce Lawyer this” and “Best Custody Lawyer that.” Some are out and out purchased. “You have been nominated as an Outstanding Family Law Lawyer. For the very modest price of $750.00 you can use our very own ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’ on your website to show everyone just how good you are at Family Law. We’ll even thrown in a very impressive plaque and some Ginsu Knives just to sweeten the deal.”
Some opportunities require the additional step of blanketing the community and everyone you might ever know (and a multitude of folks you never will), soliciting them to like you or vote for you so that you win that precious top spot (which didn’t exist before some entrepreneur thought it up). As if a popularity contest had any bearing on how skilled you are as a lawyer or was any measure of your track record in achieving your clients’ goals. The most popular cop is probably not the best one. The best one is the guy who is out there arresting the bad guys, not the one soliciting “votes.”
The sad part is, all these contests and “awards” are all just to make the attorney look pretty, in hopes that a gullible public will pick him or her to be their attorney without peering behind the curtain. That “award” is a poor substitute for quality. That “award” is a poor substitute for integrity. That “award” is a poor substitute for a long, long history of success.
There certainly are businesses that are well suited to a popularity pole. Restaurants, for example. Grocery stores, perhaps. But even the votes for players in an All Star game are tempered by some data, some statistics, some objective information about a player’s quality as a player. Baseball fans know and focus on the stats before they vote. The All Star vote is based on a lot more than a “please vote for me” request to your Aunt Tutti and her best friend Marge.
For lawyers, such an award is just window dressing, a gimmick to sway an unsuspecting public. I always tell the kids, be careful of a product that has to add some gimmick to get you to buy it. If it needs a gimmick to sell you, all that tells you is that the product is not good enough to stand on its own. Give it a pass.
Winning Ms. Congeniality, coming in number one in a popularity contest is nice, but it never gets the job done.