The Legal Elite entered a new phase this year, casting a wider net for potential voters.
Working in collaboration with the Virginia Bar Association, Virginia Business has published a list of top lawyers in a variety of legal disciplines since 2000. This year, the pool of potential voters expanded from 7,000 lawyers to all 38,000 licensed lawyers in the state.
As a result of the bigger pool, the number of ballots submitted increased 38.5 percent, from 1,162 last year to 1,610 this year. Likewise, the number of lawyers nominated for the Legal Elite increased 27.2percent, from 2,742 to 3,488.
While participation grew, the list did not. It has about 750 names this year, roughly the same as last year. Consequently, the cutoff score for the list rose, so the proportion of nominees making the Legal Elite dropped from 27.3 percent to 21.5 percent.
About 75 percent of the lawyers on the 2008 Legal Elite also made the list last year.
The Legal Elite ballot allows voters to nominate lawyers in 15 legal categories, which are chosen in consultation with the Virginia Bar Association.
The ballot has two sections: an “inside” section in which lawyers can vote for colleagues in their own firms and an “outside” section in which they vote for lawyers working for other firms. For a ballot to be valid, it must have as many “outside” nominees as “inside” nominees. Votes for “outside” lawyers are given greater weight in arriving at a point total for each nominee.
In publishing the Legal Elite each year, the magazine also tracks legal trends and profiles lawyers representing each of the 15 legal categories. All the profile subjects were chosen from the top 10 vote getters in their category, but they are not necessarily the top nominee in those fields. Lawyers who have been profiled previously were not considered.
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