How does D Magazine determine which lawyers make the list?
Best Lawyers is a peer-review voting process. We rely on the lawyers’ expertise to determine who deserves to be on the list. This year, we mailed a letter to 8,800 local lawyers from our online directory, inviting them to vote using an online ballot on our website. They could vote in their practice specialty for up to three lawyers. They could nominate one lawyer within their firm and up to two outside their firm. Same-firm votes carried less weight than outside-firm votes. The nomination form asked them to cast a vote bearing in mind the following question: “Which lawyers in Dallas, of those whose work you have witnessed first-hand, would you rank among the current best? Your answer may include co-counsel, lawyers you have observed in court, and opposing counsel.” This year, 1,427 lawyers voted. We vetted each voter’s State Bar of Texas number and practice area. Our research editor tallied the votes. We presented the tallied votes to an anonymous panel of esteemed lawyers. The panel and D staff reviewed the tallied results and decided on the finalists based on the number of votes in each category. Once the list was finalized, D confirmed each lawyer’s Texas Bar status and investigated disciplinary history.

How do you pick the categories?
We included categories that would be helpful to a business client as well as a personal client. We presented the categories to the panel of lawyers to make certain we did not leave out a worthy category.

Do lawyers have to pay to be on the list?
No, a lawyer cannot pay to be on the list. After the editorial staff finalizes the list, it is given to our sales department, which invites lawyers to buy profiles. Those profiles appear elsewhere in the magazine, labeled as paid advertising. But whether the lawyers advertise has no bearing on this list. The editorial department does not know who purchased a profile in the magazine until the magazine is in the final stages of production.

How does the panel process work?
A panel of esteemed local lawyers reviews the list. The panel is anonymous to encourage open discussion regarding the other lawyers on the list. If the panel says that a lawyer with a lot of votes is nonetheless not worthy of this recognition due to poor performance or any other reason, D staff investigates the lawyer’s disciplinary action further. If a lawyer who is a leader in his field did not receive enough votes, the panel can recommend that the lawyer be added to the list. Final decisions are deferred to the editorial staff of D Magazine.

Does D Magazine check the lawyers on the list?
Yes, each lawyer is checked against the State Bar of Texas’ database for disciplinary action and license status. The State Bar of Texas reports disciplinary action sanctions within the past 10 years. If a lawyer has an inactive license, we remove him from the list. If a lawyer has disciplinary action, we investigate further and determine whether he stays on the list on a case-by-case basis. A D Magazine fact checker calls each lawyer to verify specialty and correct spelling of name. Lawyers are removed from the list if we learn they have moved out of Dallas or have retired.

How do you prevent cheating?
Our online ballot records each voter’s IP address. If we notice a suspicious pattern—a block of votes from the same IP address, for instance, or a high number of votes cast in a short time—we investigate. We ask lawyers to vote only in their practice areas so that large firms cannot stuff ballots.

What if I don’t see my lawyer on the list?
This list is by no means inclusive. If you don’t see your lawyer here, and he is someone you like and trust, you should stick with him. If your lawyer made the list last year, but not this year, it does not mean you should stop working with him. The process selection starts over every year.

Click here for our list of the Best Lawyers in Dallas 2011.