February 9, 2010


The New York State Bar Association applauded the American Bar Association (ABA) for adopting a resolution to "examine any efforts to publish national, state, territorial and local rankings of law firms and law schools." The measure was approved by the ABA House of Delegates at its mid-year meeting in Orlando, Florida.

In a report submitted to the ABA, the New York State Bar wrote that the ABA has an obligation to carefully review all issues related to attempts to rank law firms and urged further study of the issue.  "If the rankings are not valid," the report stated, "lower ranking law firms and lawyers will be unfairly penalized." 

New York State Bar Association President Michael E. Getnick, (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York City) said, "Our efforts were prompted by the plan of U.S. News & World Reports, in partnership with Best Lawyers, to publish a ranking of the best law firms in the country.  But there are large numbers of these 'rankings' in a wide array of publications, and readers are generally unaware of methodology, criteria and reliability of the data.  The ranking of law firms can have a profound impact if the ranking is unreliable and invalid.

"An objective review of these studies by a respected body like the ABA will provide the opportunity for much needed guidance to the profession. The New York State Bar Association looks forward to working with the ABA as it develops protocols for examining law firm and law school rankings," he added.

The State Bar report points to a study by Louis H. Pollack in the Drexel Law Review 52 at 54 (2009) that found the U.S. News & World Report 2009 List of the Top 100 Schools to be "flawed;" and another study in the SMU Law Review 493 at 509 (2007) that found the results "unreliable" and subject to "significant random error."

To allow members of the profession to make informed decisions, Getnick also advised New York lawyers and law firms to exercise caution in deciding whether to provide information for the purpose of ranking law firms pending completion of the ABA's review.

Getnick thanked New York State Bar Association past-president A. Vincent Buzard (Harris Beach PLLC, Rochester) for his leadership on this issue.

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