ROF recommends checking on elderly relatives who may have been targeted by companies offering legal awards.
A business which gives out awards of questionable value to lawyers has outdone itself by selecting a winner who retired 15 years ago.
Sally Walters received an email from Lawyer Monthly last week informing her that she had been “confirmed as the outright winner of a 2020 Lawyer Monthly Legal Award”.
Walters was a lawyer working for local government in the US until she retired in 2005.
“I disability retired from the State of Ohio after serving as an Assistant Attorney General“, Walters told RollOnFriday. “Since then, I have only handled matters for my immediate family and close friends...at no cost to them”.
Lawyer Monthly told Walters that her victory was the result of a rigorous selection process. It said her nomination had been put forward by its editorial panel, then voted on by the Lawyer Monthly readership. Next, Walters was allegedly selected for a shortlist based on factors including her recent “Impact” (zero, she retired in 2005), “Client recommendations“ (see above), “Innovation” (n/a) and “Evidence of going above and beyond their call of duty” (none). Finally, a judging panel apparently gave her a score based on her achievements in her role “during the past 12-18 months”.
Walters' achievements in her role during the last 12-18 months, and the preceding 13 and a half years, have been limited. Nonetheless, Lawyer Monthly gave her an award allegedly developed to celebrate "rising stars within law”.
But don’t call the judges’ credibility (or existence) into question. In its email, Lawyer Monthly reassured a skeptical Walters that, “As experts in their industries with vast experience in their own careers, the esteemed judges are well-equipped to effectively critique the work of their peers”.
Strangely, Lawyer Monthly doesn’t publish the identities of its judges, and declined to disclose them to RollOnFriday.
“Of course, they are seeking money”, added Walters, who said that the Lawyer Monthly type of operation (she used a more perjorative term) “really needs to be brought to a halt”.
The company offered her packages to celebrate her victory which ranged from half a page in a digital magazine for $775, to a four page biography with her name on the cover for a wallet-busting $3,250. Naturally, she could also order a trophy for $375, and a framed certificate for $390, should her ego wall demand it.
Certain corners of the awards industry have been criticised for a business model which involves being paid by professionals to supply evidence of prizes of questionable legitimacy, which can then be used to convince potential clients of the lawyer’s expertise.
Lawyer Monthly is owned by Universal Media, a company registered in Tamworth and owned and run by a pair of brothers, Andrew and Mark Palmer.
It is not the first time the Palmers’ vetting process has been called into question. Finance Monthly, another awards magazine in their stable, made the national news in 2018 when it named FLF Abiola & Co, a fake entity created by RollOnFriday, as 'Nigerian Film Financing Law Firm of the Year', despite the firm's Managing Partner bearing an uncanny resemblance to Danny Glover. Even after the hoax was revealed, Mr Abiola kept getting invited to buy a trophy.
The Palmers may need all the cash they can get. When Parity Media, the last company they used to run their awards empire, collapsed into administration in 2016 owing £499,000 to unsecured creditors, the Palmers walked away from its debts by purchasing the assets for £50,000 in a pre-pack administration deal.
However, Parity Media's administration was extended multiple times, and the administrators’ most recent report filed at Companies House reveals they are looking into a "possible tax avoidance scheme", and are waiting for Counsel's opinion on the merits of the claims against the Palmers.
The prize-giving siblings did not respond to a request for comment.
Abiola said, "I welcome Sarah to this exclusive winner's club, only accessible to anyone with an email address".