AV Rating
Where Does the AV Rating Come From?

For over 12 years, Martindale-Hubbell has been the most respected source of authoritative and dependable biographical information about members of the legal community in the United States, Canada, and worldwide.

An integral part of this service to the legal community is the Martindale-Hubbell Rating System. Under this system, Legal Ability and General Recommendation Ratings for individual attorneys are developed and published in The Law Directory. The goal of this impartial rating system is the development of unbiased, fair and accurate ratings for as many lawyers as possible, including Directory subscribers and nonsubscribers alike.

How are Attorneys Reviewed?

The majority of rating reviews are initiated by Martindale-Hubbell typically five years after an attorney has been admitted to the Bar. In larger cities, ten years is the rule. An initial review of a lawyer can also be made at his or her request or at the request of a partner or colleague. Minimum periods following admission to practice are not required for any rating.

There are many lawyers for whom no ratings are published. Some have requested not to have their rating published, while for others, definitive information has not been developed because of the relatively few years the lawyer has practiced, the size of the bar or other reasons unrelated to the individual's professional competence, reliability or ethical standards. If the lawyer's practice is limited or specialized, it may afford little or no opportunity for others to form an opinion. Therefore, absence of ratings should not be construed as unfavorable.

Are Law Firms Reviewed?

Reviews are not conducted of law partnerships or professional corporations. The rating extended to law firms depends on the lawyers in the practice and the ratings published for these individuals. Generally, a law firm is given the rating of its highest rated principal. the rating of the firm has no bearing on the individual rating of any lawyer connected with it.

Do Indiviuals or Peers Review the Attorneys?

Martindale-Hubbell solicits confidential opinions from members of the Bar, including those who have ratings and those who do not. In addition, members of the Judiciary are queried.

Opinions are solicited via written questionnaires and by Martindale-Hubbell field representatives who conduct on-the-spot, oral interviews. No rating is established or altered solely on the basis of a field representative's report. Before any action is taken, confidential written inquiries are solicited from some, but not necessarily all, of the persons to whom the representative spoke as well as other legal professionals independently selected.

All inquiries seek to elicit recommendations based on personal knowledge of the professional standing of the lawyer under inquiry.

How Does the Rating System Work?

Ratings fall into two categories: Legal Ability and General Ethical Standards. Unless a rating is established in both categories, no rating is published.

Legal Ability Rating

The Legal Ability Ratings are:

A - Very High to Preminent
B - High to Very High
C - Fair to High

The General Recommendations Rating

General Ethical Standards Ratings cover 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

An attorney will not receive a rating at all unless he or she has first received a "V" or General Recommnedation Rating. Thus, when both categories of ratings are combined, and attorney will receive an "AV", "BV", or "CV" rating.

As a general rule, ratings are transferable within state boundaries. Ratings may also be transferred inter-state with a special symbol indicating rating was obtained in another state or province.

How Often are Attorneys Reevaluated?

The ratings would be of questionable value if, when once established, they were not subject to reevaluation. Accordingly, to maintain a high level of accuracy and dependability, Martindale-Hubbell conducts regular re-examinations of all ratings. If the result does not support the published rating, it is lowered or withdrawn.


It is Martindale-Hubbell's policy to treat all phases of its impartial rating process as absolutely confidential. Sources contacted participate with that understanding. Under no circumstances are any ratings review materials released.

A Cooperative Service to the Bar

Martindale-Hubbell respects the confidence the legal community has placed in its rating system. Considered an important tool used in the practice of lae, the ratings are an invaluable resource for researching opposing counsel or engaging the services of an attorney. They represent a widely regarded measure of esteem that attorneys strive to earn.

Since ratings reflect the recommendations of the legal communitym we need your continued help to ensure the impartiality of the ratings process. When you receive an inquiry concerning a member of your state's bar, please complete it and return it to us.

By doing so, you are not only providing a valuable service to the legal community as a whole, but are alos providing a measure of quality control to the attorney selection process. We extend our appreciation to every member of the legal profession who participates in this cooperative service to the Bar.

How Many Attorneys Receive the AV Rating?

Only about 10% of the attorneys in the United States obtain the AV Rating.