Is this Legal Ranking Legitimate? How to Recognize a Vanity Lawyer Award Scam


Legal nominations and awards are invaluable. By ranking on prestigious lists, lawyers and law firms can increase their visibility, build their credibility through third-party validation and level the playing field among competitors.

Do you get regular emails with the latest and greatest legal ranking that you’ve never heard of and find yourself wondering if it’s legitimate? We are here to tell you that many of them are not legitimate, and in fact, are just scammers taking advantage of the nomination “industry.” But how do you know which are worth your time and which you should delete? Below are some quick ways to spot a vanity lawyer award scam:


A good rule of thumb is that if the award is pay-to-play, it’s not legitimate. While there are a handful of awards that require a minimal application fee (something around $50), anything beyond this should be your first red flag. Recognition should be based solely on merit.

Membership Fees:

Another form of payment could be in the requirement of a membership. For example, if you are being asked to pay a $300 membership fee which will get you on a list, that is another red flag.

The Upsell:

This is similar to the pay-to-play scenarios above but masked slightly differently. For example, you’ve been notified that you were selected as a winner but need to place an ad to claim your spot, third red flag.

Congratulatory Message:

If you receive a message congratulating you for an award that you never submitted for, it’s very likely this is not a legitimate award. For the majority of awards, you or someone else needs to submit you for consideration. While there are some exceptions, by and large, you can disregard these emails.

Do Your Due Diligence

If none of the above happens, there are a few other ways to spot a spammy or scammy list. For example:

Questionable Website:

Check out their website. If their website seems incomplete, only a few pages, has broken links, or is missing information, this is a sure sign that it’s not legitimate.

Limited Information:

If you are having trouble finding information on the award, or are unable to decipher much about the list, it’s likely not legitimate.

Previous Winners:

Look at the list of past winners for any recognizable law firms. If they do not provide this, or you don’t recognize anyone, then it is most likely a spammy situation.


The website should have an explanation of the review and selection process. The more detailed it is, the better. The less detailed, the more suspicious you should be.

If you have any suspicion that an award is not legitimate, it is best to avoid it.

Check the FirmWise List of Scammy Awards

One great place to check for spammy or scammy awards is a list FirmWise created. This law firm website design company saw the need to create a comprehensive list. It provides answers to how reputable the ranking is and what they may ask for in the submission or email request. Click here to view the list.

If you’ve determined the email you’ve received is from a spammy award, delete it and have the sender blocked. By taking these steps to stop the emails early on, you will help avoid an inbox full of unnecessary messages from this “award” and other scammers.

Beware of the Plaque!

Another opportunity for unnecessary spending when it comes to legal awards is the purchase of plaques. If you win a legitimate award and want a plaque for your wall or lobby, then you should order it, but any company selling you a plaque for a list you’ve never heard of is one you can safely ignore.

Partner with a Trusted California Marketing and PR Firm

Even if you do your research, it can sometimes be challenging to distinguish a legitimate legal award from a scam. A seasoned and trusted marketing and PR firm can help you avoid scams and develop a winning strategy to generate leads and deliver real results. At Berbay Marketing & PR, we have nearly three decades of experience providing our clients with top-notch marketing services. The members of our team have dedicated their careers to doing whatever it takes to get businesses the full service marketing solution they need for tangible success.

Need assistance with nominations for your law firm? Contact Berbay at 310-405-7343 or

Related News.

Dominate the Conversation

Arrange a meeting with our team

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.