In 2020, Best Lawyers introduced Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch, and in just three short editions, we have grown this list to more than 19,000 of the most elite rising legal talent in the country. For the third year, our awards honor recognitions and highlight the esteemed careers of lawyers rising up in the legal profession.
Our company recognized a need early on for representation of lawyers earlier in their practices. Many lawyers were making names, careers and reputations for themselves already, and it seemed essential that we give them recognition as up-and-comers in the field. After several months—years even—of research, outreach, data collection and a serious back-and-forth on what to call our newest award, Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch was born.
With our primary goal of bringing more representation to the growing number of newer lawyers, we embarked on our first Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America recognitions. Our first edition included just over 11,000 lawyers. For this year, the most recent third edition, we proudly honor 19,798 lawyers across the United States.
2023: The Third Edition of "Ones to Watch"
For the third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America, we recognize 19,798 lawyers in 79 practice areas and 190 metropolitan areas. More than 3,500 firms have recognized lawyers in “Ones to Watch.”
Much like The Best Lawyers in America®, Washington, D.C. is the metropolitan area with the most recognized Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America lawyers.
Related: Read about the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America awards.
Out of 79 total practice areas, the ten with the largest showing of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America honorees in the third edition, including: Commercial Litigation, Real Estate Law, Corporate Law, Labor and Employment Law – Management, Litigation – Labor and Employment, Insurance Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, Intellectual Property Law and Trusts and Estates.
Participation from firms like Perkins Coie, Sidley Austin, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Greenberg Traurig, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and Covington & Burling yielded many additional awards this year, with each of these firms adding more than 50 “Ones to Watch” awards for 2023. From beginning to end, the process for these recognitions is vital, and we are proud to have some of the country’s most prominent law firms eager to share in the unique award experience we offer.
How Career Growth Inspires Future Best Lawyers Recognitions
With the growth of our “Ones to Watch” awards this year, some of the most illustrious lawyers in the field are getting the recognition they so deserve. And while we predict that many “Ones to Watch” recipients will go on be honored in our traditional Best Lawyers awards—in fact, some already have—it is important to note that the two recognitions are separate awards and being awarded for “Ones to Watch” does not automatically guarantee an award in Best Lawyers.
Much like the traditional Best Lawyers awards, all recognized “Ones to Watch” lawyers started with a nomination. The practice area list is similar but varied, with nuances that incapsulate the caliber of work lawyers earlier in their careers are doing. Once nominations have been received, ballots are created and sent out. “Ones to Watch” nominees are voted on by current “Ones to Watch” honoree, candidates and Best Lawyers awardees within the firm.
When a lawyer has reached a career point in which they are ready to be nominated for the traditional Best Lawyers list, “It is as simple as letting us know! If someone who is a ‘Ones to Watch’ candidate or recognized lawyer would like to be considered for Best Lawyers, please let us know prior to the beginning of voting and we will amend the candidates’ information accordingly,” according to Senior Research Manager Kirsten Greer.
But at what point in a “Ones to Watch” lawyer’s career might they be ready for a nomination on the traditional Best Lawyers list? According to Greer, “This is, of course, subjective to the candidate in question, but best practice is to make the candidacy change based on whether or not the candidate is a full partner. Alternately, if they are not a on a partner-path, being in practice for more than 10 years is appropriate to become a candidate in the traditional Best Lawyers editions.”
A recognition in “Ones to Watch” is an illustrious award, one that most would prefer to retain even as their career advances. Greer explains that lawyers can absolutely remain recognized in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for multiple years. When their tenure positions them to be nominated to The Best Lawyers in America, lawyers can absolutely remain recognized as “Ones to Watch” while also going through the nominations period, and “once research is complete and the next edition is published, if the lawyer has achieved high enough voted feedback, they will be on the traditional Best Lawyers.”
Best Lawyers strives to bring the most representation of legal talent across the country, and the third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America exemplifies the growth of the most elite up-and-coming lawyers in the profession.
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