History

How We Came To Be the Best
We wrote the book on legal awards, literally.

Click the timeline to read more about our history.


1981

Foundation

Harvard Law grads -- and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors -- Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh found the very first peer-review legal awards in the U.S.
1983

First Publication

The first edition of The Best Lawyers in America© is published.
2006

International Growth

Best Lawyers publishes peer-review awards outside of the U.S. by expanding into Canada and the United Kingdom.
2008

International Expansion

Best Lawyers expands coverage of the top legal talent in 21 additional countries.
2009

Partnership with U.S. News

Best Lawyers partners with U.S. News & World Report to add law firm rankings to our company scope.
2016

Global Coverage

Best Lawyers grows to highlight the top legal talent in 76 countries around the world. Learn more by exploring individual research timelines.
2018

Partnership with LLCP

Founder Steven Naifeh retires and Best Lawyers partners with Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (“LLCP”).
2020

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch Released

Best Lawyers releases an all-new awards category (Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch) recognizing associates and other lawyers in the U.S. who have been in private practice for five to nine years.
2021

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch Expand Internationally

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recognitions expanded into Canada, France, Germany and Spain.
2021

Partnership with Abry Partners

Best Lawyers transitioned our partnership with LLCP to Abry Partners in late 2021.

Best Lawyers History

For more than four decades, Best Lawyers publications have earned the respect of the profession, the media and the public, as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals anywhere.

Our lists of outstanding lawyers are compiled by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. If the votes for a lawyer are positive enough for recognition in Best Lawyers, that lawyer must maintain those votes in subsequent polls to remain in each edition. Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be recognized by Best Lawyers.

Best Lawyers peer-reviewed listings are now published in 76 countries around the world, and our presence has grown substantially in the international legal community. The 28th edition of The Best Lawyers in America® (2022) includes more than 66,000 lawyers in 147 practice areas, covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and inclusion in this year’s publication is based on 10.8 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers.

Because of Best Lawyers' known credibility, our awards reach a broader and more important audience than any other legal guide, boasting more than 17 million readers in city, regional and national publications across the globe. In addition to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune, Best Lawyers partners with major business and general publications around the world, from Les Echos in France, to the Australian Financial Review, Business Day in South Africa and Handelsblatt in Germany.

In 2009, Best Lawyers partnered with U.S. News & World Report, a leading rankings publication, to produce the first annual "Best Law Firms." Now in its 12th edition (2022), "Best Law Firms" uses quantitative data and client surveys to rank 14,643 law firms, resulting in the most comprehensive guide to legal representation in the United States. Best Lawyers and "Best Law Firms" endure as definitive resources for top legal talent, building on our transparent, peer-review methodology founded over four decades ago. In 2018, we expanded our partnership with U.S. News by releasing an all-new legal industry platform: U.S. News Lawyer Directory — powered by Best Lawyers®. To learn more visit: https://lawyers.usnews.com.

In 2020, Best Lawyers endeavored to expand our offerings to a new segment of lawyers. We released the inaugural Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch awards in the U.S. Using the same peer-review methodology that Best Lawyers has utilized for over four decades, Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch recognized associates who have been in private practice for less than 10 years in the United States. To date, Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch has expanded into nine regions with plans for further expansion.

Finally in 2018, Best Lawyers' co-founder Steven Naifeh retired from the organization and Best Lawyers partnered with Levine Leichtman Capital Partners. Three years later, we transitioned to a new partnership with Abry Partners.

In Brief

News, Editorial, Insights and Press