I win stuff all the time. Just this week, I won the UK lottery even though I didn’t play. Most weeks, I’m selected to receive a sizable portion of various Nigerian millionaires’ estates. I don’t even know anyone in Nigeria. I also regularly win lawyer awards from people and organizations with writing styles eerily similar to the people who write me about my UK lottery winnings and Nigerian inheritances. I always learn about it by email, though. You can imagine my surprise when this letter arrived the other day:
At first glance, I thought it was from the NACDL. I can only assume that’s the intended effect. Every criminal defense attorney knows about the NACDL, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most are members. On the other hand, I’d never heard of the NACDA in my life. I suppose that may be due to the fact it was established in 2013. Not terribly impressive.
Reading the letter left me with a lot of questions. Who nominated me? How does one join The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys? How big is the organization? Who’s on their research staff? Who’s on the processing committee? Who’s on the Board of Governors?
Their website doesn’t answer any of my questions. The main page just says they’re “devoted to recognizing the top criminal defense attorneys in the nation,” while the “about us” page says they “ensure quality representation for individuals facing charges” by “equipping highly-qualified criminal defense attorneys with the most current continuing education opportunities and providing the public with the most accurate, up-to-date listings of top ranked attorneys in their states.” It also says their mission is “to provide advanced educational opportunities that enable criminal defense attorneys to afford their clients the best representation possible.” Strangely, the site lists no top lawyers, and I couldn’t find information about continuing education anywhere.
The second page I received puts the whole thing into perspective:
Lucky me! For an “Award Administration Fee” of only $250.00, I can be the proud owner of a plaque in four to six weeks. The language on the first page about having to send in the acceptance form in order to accept the award suddenly becomes pretty funny. For $250.00 I can accept the award I already won. If I don’t do it by December 3rd, though, they’ll give my award to the first alternate. I wonder if that’s how the Nobel Prize works too.
My best guess about the NACDA is that it’s probably just one person, or at most just a few. They have a virtual office at a Washington, D.C. address that looks pretty darn nifty to a hick Arizona lawyer like me, and they make all of their money by convincing desperate lawyers to pay for a made-up award in order to look important. No one nominated me, there’s no way to actually join the organization, they don’t actually do continuing education, and the research staff, processing committee, and board of governors are just the owner or owners. I couldn’t even figure out where on earth the organization is incorporated, if it is in fact incorporated.
Quite confident that the NACDA is nothing more than a marketing scam, curiosity drove me to figure out who would actually fall for it. Googling “Top 10 Attorney Award,” I was quite pleased to see that only two lawyers appear to have wasted their money. One of them just has it listed on his Avvo page. Amusingly, the other one is not just a lawyer but also a self-help book author and a member of the National Academy of Best-Selling Authors. Of course he is. I’m hoping those two lawyers’ office managers just inadvertently paid the fee for them, but I wouldn’t bet on it, especially with the second one. Click on the link about his self-help book if you doubt me.
As for me, I’m afraid I won’t be accepting my award. I can make my own meaningless plaque for a lot less than $250.00.
Filed under: Marketing · Tags: award, board of governors, committee, Marketing, nacda, national academy of criminal defense attorneys, nomination, plaque, research staff, scam, top 10 attorney, under 40, winner