Saturday, May 4, 2013

D Magazine: The best criminal defense lawyers in Dallas are 19 white guys...Really?

In 2009 a letter arrived in the mail.  It was from D Magazine.  I almost tossed it thinking it was junk mail.  The letter was to inform me that I had been "chosen" by my peers as one of the Best Women Lawyers in Dallas for 2010.  I remember thinking - when did this happen?  I don't remember a vote of any sort.  Why "women" lawyers - are we like the 2nd string?

A little background:  I've been a member of the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association since 1996.  Since 2007 I've served on the Board of Directors and handled all membership matters for what is rumored to be the oldest criminal defense bar association in the United States.  I could not recall anyone from D Magazine contacting our organization or seeking any input from the criminal bar.  Who were these "peers" that nominated me?

Seemed like a really nice honor.  Of course, I didn't realize at the time that it was going to cost an arm and leg to have my profile printed in their special issue.  $3500 later I had a profile.  I remember there were at least 4 female criminal defense lawyers on this list including me.  

Total amount of actual business this $3500 generated for my law office - $0

A few months later another letter arrived.  This time D Magazine was printing a Best of the Best issue and wanted to include me for a mere $2500 more.  Yes, I wrote them another check.  Sucker.  

Total amount of actual business this $2500 generated for my law office - $0

Another year, another letter.  This letter was to inform me that I had been named by my peers to the Best Lawyers in Dallas 2011 list.  What peers?  Who voted for this?  Certainly not the criminal bar.  I can't remember how much this cost me.  I think it was more than $3500.  

Total amount of actual business this $3500+ generated for my law office - $0

But, hey, at least I had graduated from the "women lawyers" list to the "lawyer" list.  Wow.  I guess that's like moving from the kiddie table into the dining room, right?

Alas, no more letters from D Magazine, which was ironic since that same year I was named a Super Lawyer and made the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (and even the Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers!).  

I'm sure they published a list for 2012 but I don't remember seeing it.  Earlier this week I opened D Magazine and glanced through their chosen lawyers for 2013.  I was once again struck by their headline - "The Top Attorneys in Dallas as Chosen by Their Peers".

Hmmmm...there was something a bit odd about the criminal defense lawyers they claim "we" chose - they are all white guys.  19 of them.  No women.  No lawyers of color.  19 white guys.


Isn't that something?  

As I looked at the names, I saw many that I would have personally voted onto that list.  I saw others that made my jaw drop.  

Does D Magazine HAVE A CLUE what the gender and ethnic makeup of the Dallas criminal bar is?  I'd laugh if it wasn't so sad.  

To the best of my knowledge, no one from D Magazine has ever contacted the criminal bar about this selection process.  There are 346 members of DCDLA.  There is also a Dallas Black Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.  I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they were never contacted, either.  In fact, I would hazard a guess that the editors of D Magazine don't even know they exist.  

Apparently some lawyers - I don't know who they are and neither does anyone else I know - allegedly vote for people and then a panel of lawyers (Who?) decide who actually makes the list.

Who is on this panel?  The presidents of DCDLA (a woman, by the way) or DBCDLA?  Nope. 

I've decided to try a little experiment.  I do not believe that the criminal defense bar would pick a list of 19 white guys as the best of the best.  It's ludicrous.  

But maybe I'm wrong.  We'll soon know.  

Nominations opened yesterday for all criminal lawyers who practice in Dallas to name the top lawyers in various categories of criminal defense practice.  We close nominations on 5/15.  From 5/16-5/31, we will hold an online vote which will actually result in a peer nominated, peer chosen list of the TOP CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS IN DALLAS.

I'll be sure and notify D Magazine.  It will likely come as a huge shock to know that there are actually women lawyers and lawyers of color who kick some serious ass in Dallas courtrooms and are held in high esteem by their peers.  

Or maybe we'll pick 19 white guys.  

Stay tuned.