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Credentials 101 for Women Lawyers: Why They Matter

Women attorneys have come a long way since first being admitted to the American Bar Association in 1918. There are more and more female attorneys being admitted in our country and our state every year. This is a great advancement for women lawyers, but it also means that the competition is growing. Credentialing your law practice is one way that it can stand out. Credentialing can be done through publications, presentations, career successes, and pro bono work. For purposes of this blog post, we will focus on credentialing your career through awards.

What are Credentials?

Credentials, such as those given by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, Avvo, Lead Counsel, and the American Trial Lawyers Association, are a tool that sets you apart from other attorneys. They give industry recognition, signify trustworthiness, and indicate a job well done. They also often help drive clients to your website and convert leads into loyal clients.

Obtaining Credentials

Each type of credentialing body sets its criteria, and some have more than one type of credentialing. Depending on the publication or organization, you may have to:

  • Submit nomination profiles in advance

  • Vote for other lawyers

  • Potentially adhere to voting rules which help reduce soliciting votes for oneself

  • Pay a fee or pay to be listed in a director or add the credential badge to your website or other marketing materials

Be sure to pay attention to any deadlines that may apply to meet these requirements. If you miss them, you will likely need to wait another year.

Generally, peer-nominated attorneys and those with impressive resumes receive these credentials after a rigorous review process. For example, Super Lawyers looks at the following when determining who should receive their credential:

  • Verdicts and settlements

  • Transactions

  • Representative clients

  • Experience

  • Honors and awards

  • Special licenses/certifications

  • Position within the law firm

  • Bar and/or professional activity

  • Pro bono and community service

  • Scholarly lectures or writings

  • Education and employment background

  • Other notable achievements

Keep in mind that some credentials are limited in terms of how many lawyers are approved per practice area or state.

Why Credentials Matter

Why do attorney credentials matter? All but a handful of states require lawyers to attend school, graduate, and pass their state's bar exam to practice law. If you are a licensed attorney, you have done the same thing that millions of others have done. It's still an impressive feat, but what sets you apart, especially as a female attorney? Securing even one of these credentials is a remarkable accomplishment that can boost your online presence and as well as your local credibility.

Credentials Set You Apart

Although learning the submission criteria and meeting their requirements can feel like a daunting and never-ending task, it is well worth your time to complete. Once you earn or are awarded one of these credentials, you have the honorable option of placing the credentialing badge on your website or other marketing materials.

This is a quick visual way to show your prospective and current clients as well as other attorneys who may refer to you that you are worthy of their business. Many of these well-known and respected distinctions have been around for quite some time. As such, they show credibility and that you aren't just another run-of-the-mill lawyer. These reputable distinctions can help tell your firm's story.

Credentials are a Way to Be Found

Most credentialing services offer online and/or print directories that feature their credentialed attorneys or law firms. Some are national directories, and others are state-specific. When prospective clients search online for specific terms, such as "criminal defense lawyer near me" or "divorce law firm Denver," many of these credentialing directories will show in the results, guiding potential clients towards reputable attorneys such as yourself.

For most attorneys, especially female lawyers, obtaining these credentials involves very little risk and takes a small amount of time. As such, it's highly encouraged to make time to seek out these types of distinctions for your resume and your career.


Meranda M. Vieyra is the owner of Denver Legal Marketing LLC. She is one of the most visible legal professionals in Colorado law with over 20 years of service in the Denver legal community. Her award-winning marketing firm has earned a strong reputation as the go-to for impactful, cost-effective legal marketing strategies. She has helped her clients secure coverage by well-known publications and has obtained local, national, and international awards on their behalf. Meranda enjoys working with solo practitioners and small law firms helping them attract recognition, promotion, and visibility to their practices. She also advises medium-sized and national law firms on business development and marketing strategy. Meranda is a lecturer and author on issues related to marketing including how lawyers can use LinkedIn effectively, how to develop a personal brand, and the promotion of legal services through community service. In 2018, she was honored to be named to the 40 Under 40 list by the Denver Business Journal and to be given the 10 Under 10 Award by the Metropolitan State University of Denver Alumni Association (top 10 alum of the decade). In 2019, Meranda was named in the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business by the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce and in the Top 100 young professionals in Colorado through the Gen XYZ Awards published by ColoradoBiz Magazine.

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