» Marketing » You Don’t Pay For Real Awards

You Don’t Pay For Real Awards

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:

Download (PDF, 162KB)

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:

Download (PDF, 100KB)

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.

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14 Responses to "You Don’t Pay For Real Awards"

  1. O. Rosales says:

    Its a TOTAL SCAM. I received a similar award letter announcing that I had been selected for the Top 10 Disability Lawyers in Texas, from the National Association of Civil Trial Lawyers. I was excited for 10 seconds, then I was like . . . wait a second!

    So, I looked it up, and there is no National Association of Trial Lawyers. It’s just a marketing scam. It’s purely a VANITY AWARD that you pay $350 for. What a ripoff.

    I think I will I keep my hard-earned $350 and the group of National Association of Trial Lawyers can suck my ass.

    In any event, I’m retired at 42. That says more than enough about my lawyering skillz.

  2. john says:

    Sweet Dudes! I just got top ten in Colorado, but mine must be more prestigious because they bumped the price of winning up to $350!

  3. Law Offices of Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton says:

    Our office also received one of these letters from the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys. Mr. Flickinger asked me to look into it for him, and I stumbled across your post during my Google search. Thank you for the entertaining read. I’ll direct Mr. Flickinger to it when he needs a good laugh.

  4. AT Esq. says:

    Scam. I received a similar “award” from the “National Association of Personal Injury Attorneys.” They appear to have a fake (virtual) office in D.C. It’s a money grab. Do the math. 10 (gullible) lawyers per state, $350 per, that’s $175K. Easy money.

  5. love your commentary. I just received word that I have been chosen to receive this year’s prestigious TOP TEN ATTORNEY AWARD FOR THE STATE OF MAINE, from the NATIONAL ACADEMY OF PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS, INC. Wow! I got awarded the same honor last year but respectfully declined to pay the “award administration fee”. Last year I checked and no one from Maine was listed on their website as being in the top ten. Apparently they found lawyers who would pay the fee just to have the listing. I know some of them. I guess they figure it looks good to put on the website and press releases. Bet it is the same few guys working out of their garage who bestowed the honor upon you. Thanks for the chuckle I got reading your post.

  6. bcm says:

    looks like this guy went for it hook, line and sinker in back to back to back years. It also looks like there are additional acronyms in play. http://www.dibellalawoffice.com/Contact.shtml

  7. Gavin Kentch says:

    Huh. I’m apparently one of the top 10 young lawyers in Alaska (unless I don’t pay up, in which case someone else gets to be), but it would only cost me $300 to do so this year, not $350. I just got this in the mail today (Dec. 1, 2014). Maybe they’re dropping the price as they get fewer takers.

  8. […] price for a Top 10 Attorney Award for the state of Texas is $350—it’s gone up since Matt Brown was chosen in Arizona last year.3 And speaking of bloggers, Murray Newman is listed by this Oklahoma corporation as one of the Top […]

  9. Joe Bodiford says:

    October 2014 – I got one today – in fact, I got two (the second letter included my middle initial), so I guess I can get two awards and be doubly awesome. Your letter from last year says the “fee” is $250 – guess what – it went up to $350 for 2014! Must be a good money maker for someone . . . . I guess I will have put on my website that I was a Top 10 nominee . . .

    I had not heard of the group, either, and googled it to find your post. Good stuff!

  10. Whoever is behind this also seems to have a mirror setup with the National Association of Personal Injury Attorneys (NAOPIA). This readily appears to be a scam. First and foremost, I do not meet one of the most basic requirements listed on their site. I have only been licensed since 2011, and therefore am not at the minimum 5 year mark.

    Your title says it all.

    1. I had also meant to add, though the address listed is in Washington D.C., the envelope bears an Oklahoma City processing mark.

  11. shg says:

    In fairness, it’s far less expensive than my $10,000 Super-di-Duper Bestest Lawyer Ever (and I mean it!!!) Award, which is only given to lawyers after careful scrutiny of their financial condition and willingness to pay no matter what. On the other hand, mine doesn’t have a plaque, but you can get an additional badge for your webpage for half price.

    1. Matt Brown says:

      I’ll tell you what. I was going to wait, but I’m gonna go ahead and tell you right now you’ve been pre-selected for my Top 6.11 Over 40 Award. Someone (who definitely wasn’t just me) nominated you, and the board of governors (which definitely wasn’t just me and Adrian and a fifth of Jim Beam) reviewed your qualifications. It costs $1,000,000.00 because lawyers over forty don’t have student loans and can just print money. Lucky for you, if you’re willing to trade for your Super-di-Duper Bestest Lawyer Ever award, I’ll knock my award fee down to $990,000.00 plus a $10,000.00 award offset fee. Just mail the check to me at my law firm.

      1. shg says:

        Drat. I really didn’t want to spend any more money, but your award sounds so very prestigious I can barely resist. Check’s in the mail.

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