Explanation of the Peer Review Lawyer Rating System

Martindale-Hubbell’s exclusive Peer Review Lawyer Rating System evaluates attorneys and law firms with a thorough, confidential and independent peer review process. For decades, this well-known rating system has been a popular and reliable source for evaluation of attorneys by buyers of legal services and those making referrals.  The Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings attest to a lawyer’s legal ability and professional ethics, and reflect the confidential opinions of fellow lawyers and members of the judiciary.

There are two components to Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings:

1.         General Ethics Standard Rating. This denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities.  The highest rating is a “V” for “Very High.”

2.         Legal Ability Rating. This rates the standard of professional ability in the area where the lawyer practices, the lawyer’s expertise, and other professional qualifications.  Legal Ability Ratings are “C”-Good to High; “B”-High to Very High; and “A”-Very High to Preeminent. 

When a lawyer or firm has both a General Ethics Rating and a Legal Ability Rating, the lawyer or firm receives a “CV”, “BV” or “AV” Rating.  The Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Ratings reflect career development.  The three categories of ratings can be summarized as follows:

CV:  The CV rating is a good first rating and a definitive statement of above-average ability and unquestionable ethics.  This is the maximum rating a lawyer can receive who has been admitted to the bar from 3-4 years.

BV:  The BV rating is an excellent rating for a lawyer with more experience.  This is the maximum rating a lawyer can receive who has been admitted to the bar from 5-9 years.

AV:  The AV rating is a testament to the fact that the lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.  A lawyer must be admitted to the bar for 10 years or more to achieve an AV rating.

To establish a rating, Martindale-Hubbell sends confidential questionnaires to other lawyers and judges within the same geographic location and/or practice area as the attorney or law firm under evaluation.  Martindale-Hubbell staff also conducts personal interviews with members of the bar who may be able to shed some light on the credentials of a specific attorney or firm.  Opinions are solicited from peers with direct, professional knowledge of the lawyer or firm under review.  All of the review materials are strictly confidential, enabling participants to provide completely candid assessments of their colleagues.


CV, BV and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process.  Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary.  Martindale-Hubbell Ratings fall into two categories—legal ability and general ethical standards.