Florida's Standing Committee on Advertising voted 5-0 to approve a lawyer's a magazine advertisement that displays his membership in The National Trial Lawyers, saying that it did not mislead the public because it is a bona fide organization that uses objective selection for membership.
Reversing a staff opinion, the Committee determined that the use of awards and recognitions by the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyer) is permissible and did not violate Rule Rule 4-7.14 (a)(3).
Attorney Michael D. Leader of Leader & Leader, P. A. in Fort Lauderdale, FL, had applied to the Florida Bar on July 8, 2015 for permission to publish his advertisement. File No.: 15-04160.
The Bar staff declined to provide a notice of compliance for the revised magazine advertisement in file 15-04160 because:
Advertisements cannot contain information about awards, honors, ratings or memberships of lawyers "unless the entity conferring such membership or recognition is generally recognized within the legal profession as being a bona fide organization that makes its selections based upon objective and uniformly applied criteria, and that includes among its members or those recognized a reasonable cross-section of the legal community the entity purports to cover."
The Committee voted that The NTL is a bona fide organization that uses objective selection criteria as required by Rule 4-7.13(a)(3) on August 19, 2015. The NTL website sets forth objective criteria for membership:
Membership in The National Trial Lawyers is limited to the Top 100 civil plaintiff and criminal defense lawyers in each state or from highly-populated regions of states. Members of The National Trial Lawyers are encouraged to nominate their peers for membership. Prospective members are carefully screened before being invited to join. The criteria for membership include:
- Reputation among peers, the judiciary and the public
- Achievements, settlements and verdicts as a trial lawyer
- Board certification as a trial lawyer
- Nominations from leading trial lawyers, current members and Executive Committee members
- Leadership and membership in other national and state trial lawyer organizations
- Rankings and ratings by leading national evaluation organizations
Nominees must be trial lawyers actively practicing either civil plaintiff or criminal defense law. Civil defense attorneys who represent corporations or insurance companies may not be invited. Memberships are reviewed annually to assure that the membership of The National Trial lawyers is made up of only the finest and best trial attorneys from each state or region. All members are automatically reconsidered for membership.
Founded in 2008, The National Trial Lawyers is composed of 8,500 attorneys specializing and experienced in civil plaintiff and criminal defense law. This national organization provides networking opportunities, advocacy training, and the highest quality educational programs for trial lawyers. Also mention are outstanding Officers and Executive Committee.
It includes 19 Specialty Associations but that number is set to increase. The NTL is affiliated with Mass Torts Made Perfect (MTMP), Personal Injury Lawyer Marketing and Management Association (PILMMA) and the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (APILTA).