I've always thought that promoting yourself as a "Super Lawyer" or "Best Lawyer" was pathetic, self-aggrandizing and meaningless. I counsel law firm clients not to hype this designation, because it preys upon lawyer egos to publicly praise themselves, and leads to expensive advertising campaigns. It is also weak, because it meant the only source that said you were any good was a silly directory.
Now a supreme court committee in New Jersey has made the decision easy: it has outlawed calling yourself a "Super Lawyer" or "Best Lawyer." Opinion 39 of the Committee on Attorney Advertising ruled on July 19 that advertising by lawyers with either designation is prohibited as a form of unethical comparative advertising that is also likely to create an unjustified expectation about the results the lawyer can achieve.
Once again the troglodyte courts are back in the business of prohibiting stupidity, even if it means curtailing commercial speech by lawyers and and micro-managing lawyer advertising. The fact that a "Committee on Attorney Advertising" exists is ridiculous, and when it snuffs out marketing initiatives, it is repellent. This committee should be disbanded, or given the duty of counting toothpicks in a box or rolling string into balls.
I don't defend the publishers of "Super" and "Best" lawyers. They are advertising predators who make themselves rich as Croesus by tricking lawyers out of their money. Most law firm marketers know to steer their firms away from this claptrap. But a new sucker is christened with a J.D. every day.
But the publishers have a right to make a buck. More importantly, lawyers have the right to market themselves in any honest way that will bring in clients. In America, lawyers have the right to be stupid. So does any other business that advertises, including the fools that blow $1 million to advertise in the quickly-forgotten Superbowl. For the courts to pinpoint a particular marketing technique as "unethical" is a waste of its time and an insult to the U.S. Constitution (see Amendment No. 1).