Another Day, Another Lawyer Ego Scam

I’ll admit it: I sometimes envy guys like Steve Fairlie a bit.

Meet Steve Fairlie of North Wales, Pennsylvania. Steve is:

But it isn’t these meaningless “honors,” unrecognized by our peers and valuable only as far as they can be dishonestly sold to potential clients as meaningful, that make me envy Steve.

Rather, I envy Fairlie because, recognizing that other lawyers like him would pay to have their egos stroked, he created the National Association of Distinguished Counsel, handing out to ego-starved lawyers the honor of calling themselves “the Nations Top One Percent.” Oh, and selling merchandise: a plaque for $150, a personalized statute for $300, a personalized video for $400. I envy, just a bit, the chutzpah of taking insecure lawyers’ money for imaginary recognition so that the lawyers can deceive potential clients. Every time I see another of these scams, I think “I really ought to do that.”

Then I think, “that pond must be fished out by now.”

Then the next time another lawyer ego scam pops up I realize that I was wrong.

Is it possible that there is an unlimited market for stroking insecure lawyers’ egos?

There are organizations that recognize quality lawyering; they’ve been around for more than a few years; they don’t charge lawyers “membership dues” to advertise their meaningless honors; and they offer more benefits than just bragging rights. But they’re probably not going to honor you.

(Carl David Ceder is a “Top One Percent” lawyer, along with a bunch of Texas criminal-defense lawyers I’ve never heard of and a couple I have. Bring a First-Aid Kit!)

13 Comments

  1. Award “best legal writing” trophys, and charge for submission. You get to exercise a modicum of discrimination, and still rake in cash.

  2. My friends when we graduated college in the 90’s thought up a plan to create a “National Merit Society,” and make General Colin Powell and Stephen Hawking, “Honorary members.” Haha

  3. I agree – most of these are b.s. and simply other ways to separate you from your cash in the form of a plaque, an ad, etc. But sadly, people (clients, other lawyers) DO take them seriously, even if you (and I) don’t, and put faith in them. So the lawyers who “play ball” get clients who believe in the game, while perfectly good lawyers who ignore the game, sit on the sidelines.

    I’m sure if you’re in a niche or a rural area where the competition is less fierce, it’s easy to scoff and ignore these things. But where competition is fierce, people look at the superficial and use it to make decisions. If that wasn’t true, there wouldn’t be Avvo, Yelp! and other, similar, sites. It makes for a tough decision – do you ignore it, and possibly lose business, or do you ‘join the party’ and “play ball” just to be in the game? I think there’s enough competition out there that people don’t want to risk losing business. So they hold their nose and jump in.

    (And I won’t mention the narcissistic idiots who view these things as “accomplishments”)

    1. This is the “race to the bottom” that Scott Greenfield complains about.

      Ethical lawyers don’t “hold their noses and jump in”; they would rather lose business than deceive clients.

    2. It might appear that those who “play ball” get the clients, but I don’t think it is always best for their business in the long run. The people who build their reputations on these awards and internet reviews end up spending a lot of time and effort protecting those online reputations. This is why you get all the bogus defamation threats from people like Rakofsky. A reputation built by the internet can be easily ruined by it. It is still possible, and more stable, to make connections and build a reputation away from places like Avvo.

  4. Corporate America Magazine has this for all sorts of industries. I am on the short list for a ‘Boardroom Elite’ award, all I have to do is send some supporting documentation. I don’t serve on any boards, but I am sure that will not preclude me from winning.

  5. One of these Top 100 scams wanted me to send them 1,000 dollars for a certificate. I went to Google Earth to see where this august body was located. It’s a PO Box store sandwiched between a dry cleaner and a sushi restaurant selling pizza by the slice. Another one is sitting in a rundown 2 story apartment building under a freeway overpass in Queens.

  6. Dear Garry,

    I reviewed your email regarding the American Law Society and also reviewed information of the American Law Society for admission into the group of organizations with which I am a member and into my elite tier of such organizations. I have examined relevant elements that live in the public domain. This is part of my formal vetting process.

    I will have specific questions for the American Law society that require a ten minute vetting phone call. This call will cover the American Law Society’s practice, professionalism, and overall ethics. My vetting phone call is conducted by a high pressure sales representative reading from a prepared sales script intended to pressure the American Law Society to pay for the privilege of being accepted and for paying an even greater amount for being accepted into my elite tier of organizations. The vetting phone call begins with asking whether anyone associated with the American Law Society has any relatives from Nigeria.

    If you meet defined criteria, the America Law Society will be accepted and allowed to choose a basic tier of membership upon acceptance. Do not be alarmed, however, because, like the American Law Society, no poor shmuck who pays has ever been refused admission.

    If the American Law Society does NOT meet defined criteria, meaning it is not suckered into paying, the American Law Society may be solicited again and again and again for a year or more until it agrees to pay me or successfully blocks all my email addresses.

    Membership includes: A comprehensive and publicly accessible profile on my website warning lawyers about the American Law Society with a copy of your email and this reply email. This recognition allows the American Law Society the ability to showcase its solicitation practice and lack of any accomplishments other than obtaining membership fees with which to pay your salary and the salaries of your high pressure sales representatives, if any.

    To complete the evaluation process, you need to schedule a vetting phone call.

    Feel free to contact me directly with any questions but there is a small charge for each question you ask. I take Visa and MasterCard or you can just send me a bunch of cash in the mail and I will possibly return any unused amount usually within one year after you ask your questions. There is also an small extra charge should you desire truthful responses to your questions.

    Insincerely,

    Jerold

  7. Dear Jerold,

    I have been assigned to review your information for admission into the American Law Society and our elite tier of America’s Top Lawyers. I will be examining relevant elements that live in the public domain. This is part of the American Law Society’s formal vetting process.
    I will have specific questions for you that require a ten minute vetting phone call. This call will cover your practice, professionalism, and overall ethics.
    If you meet defined criteria, you will be accepted and allowed to choose a basic tier of membership upon acceptance.
    If you do NOT meet defined criteria, you may be reviewed again one year from the date of this email.
    Membership includes: I have been assigned to review your information for admission into the American Law Society and our elite tier of America’s Top Lawyers. I will be examining relevant elements that live in the public domain. This is part of the American Law Society’s formal vetting process.
    I will have specific questions for you that require a ten minute vetting phone call. This call will cover your practice, professionalism, and overall ethics.
    If you meet defined criteria, you will be accepted and allowed to choose a basic tier of membership upon acceptance.
    If you do NOT meet defined criteria, you may be reviewed again one year from the date of this email.
    Membership includes: A comprehensive and publicly accessible profile on the American Law Society’s website. This recognition allows leading lawyers the ability to showcase their practice and accomplishments.
    To complete the evaluation process, you need to schedule a vetting phone call by using the following link: To complete the evaluation process, you need to schedule a vetting phone call by using the following link:
    Complete Your Admissions Review
    Feel free to contact me directly with any questions.
    Sincerely,
    Garry Garnet
    Director of Admissions
    American Law Society LLC.
    845 Third Avenue, 6th Fl.
    New York, NY 10022
    Direct Line: 888-359-1368
    Garry.Garnet@AmericanLawSociety.org

  8. I want “a personalized statute for $300”. Then I can perhaps get forever, in the USA, the kind of (diplomatic) immunity I had when I was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer assigned abroad.

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