Martindale-Hubbell recognized Lowell E. Sweet and John L. Maier, Jr. as AV-rated attorneys, the highest such rating available to any individual lawyer. Law firms are given the rating of the highest rated individual attorney.
Martindale-Hubbell states as follows:
The Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings system is based on the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary, including both those who are rated and those who are not. Martindale-Hubbell representatives conduct personal interviews to discuss lawyers under review with other members of the Bar. A compilation of these opinions for various sources is necessary to form a consensus, and lawyers under review are sometimes asked to provide professional references to assist with the process. In addition, confidential questionnaires are sent to lawyers and judges in the same geographic location and/or area of practice as the lawyer being rated. Members of the Bar are instructed to assess their colleague’s legal ability and general ethical standards.
There are two components to each Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating:
- Legal Ability Ratings: Legal ability ratings take into consideration the standard of professional ability in the area where the lawyer practices, the lawyer’s expertise and other professional qualifications. If a lawyer’s practice is limited or specialized, Peer Review Ratings are based on performance in those specific fields of law. Legal Ability Ratings are: C – Good to High; B – High to Very High; A – Very High to Preeminent.
- General Ethical Standards Rating: The general ethical standards rating denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities. The general recommendation rating is: V – Very high. A lawyer will not receive a legal ability rating unless he or she has been endorsed for a “V.”
When both categories of Peer Review Ratings are confirmed, a lawyer receives a CV, BV or AV rating.
- CV Peer Review Rating: An excellent first rating and a statement of a lawyer’s above average ability and very high ethics.
- BV Peer Review Rating: An indication of an exemplary reputation and well-established practice. A typical lawyer is in mid-career, with a significant client base and high professional standing.
- AV Peer Review Rating: Shows that a lawyer has reached the height of professional excellence. He or she has usually practiced law for many years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity.