I wrote here last week about BestAttorneysOnline.com, the dubious new lawyer-rating site that can’t seem to get lawyers’ practice areas or even their locations straight, listing lawyers as among the top 10 in practices they have nothing to do with and in states in which they have no ties. I followed that with a second post about legal reporter Caryn Tamber’s adventures with the site. Now, I have even more to report that only underscores the conclusion that the people behind this site are the gang that couldn’t shoot straight of lawyer ratings.

A woman who is an information-resources executive with a law-related company sent me her e-mail correspondence with Rick Jannings of the Indiana company responsible for the site, Best Attorneys Online LLC. (I could not find Jannings’ title, but I did find a press release that identifies him as the company’s contact.) The woman asked me not to identify her or her company.

It started innocently enough, with the woman sending a query to the company’s generic e-mail address, info@bestattorneysonline.com:

So I was browsing your website to see if I felt it was worth registering for, but can’t figure out how to do an attorney search. is there any way, if you have an attorney name and want to see where he/she is ranked in any of your lists or whatever, to do that?

In reply, Jannings sent her an e-mail that not only failed to respond to her question but that went on to rudely — and cluelessly — dress her down and brush her off:

Just go to the site and do a search. There is a search bar right in the middle of the home page. Click the practice area, state, and hit the button find an attorney.

That will show you a listing of attorneys.

If you want to see rankings click on attorney rankings at top of page.

Now, with all due respect, we do not consort with directors of information resources upon making decisions regarding whether we want to promote your firm or not. Our direct contact must come from the Attorney that runs the business. Period. If you choose to register for your firm, you will be eligible ONLY for a FREE listing. Which will garner you no clients. It will only serve as a means to send clients as a validating website that you’re a top firm. This site is for ONLY top law firms and in order to evaluate them properly we deal only DIRECTLY with the Lawyer who owns the firm. This is not meant to be offensive, that is just the way that it is. In order to be RANKED, and promoted as one of the very best firms out there we do an enormous amount of work for you, and that value and understanding of that value has to be directly understood by the man or woman writing the check for the service. We don’t allow for any “translations” of perceived value from any or all assistants, marketing directors, or any other said help.

If you are the head of marketing or something for a huge law firm and you actually write checks for marketing campaigns on behalf of your clients, fine. Otherwise, there is much more to our site and its methodologies than the “typical” let’s go spend some marketing dollars in certain areas that we might think are effective.

We need to do further evaluations if your firm fits our criteria as a firm that we would like to promote.

I was about to write, “The best line in that e-mail is …,” but there are so many good lines. The only messages this e-mail manages to convey are that this company knows nothing about customer service or about the legal industry.

Our correspondent capped this exchange with her own reply to Jannings (and with company and law firm names altered to protect the innocent):

I did that and all never get any results. I guess you just must not have the attorneys I’m looking up as examples, though I’m trying some of the largest rainmakers at the largest firms, but I guess you are not quite there yet. Thanks anyways.

As for the rest of your email, you may not intend to be “offensive,” but your email certainly is rude and unexpected. I simply asked a question to verify I was using the search correctly. By register, I had no intention of registering my company has part of your database. I assumed register meant solely to get access to more advance searching to find attorneys. The company I currently work for is not a law firm and thus would not be in your market area although we might have used your site to find attorneys to work with since we do work with most of the AMLAW 200. However I recently left, on very good terms, LawFirm1 who I do not see in your list of top law firms (even though they are #2 in the country), and I will be sure to forward this email to their head of marketing/bd (as well as to my marketing friends at LawFirm2 ) so they can be aware of how you treat the people with whom they work and to recommend that they look for other “more effective” ways to spend their marketing dollars.

It’s too bad that you felt the need to be so rude. While I may just be a “director of information resources” with whom you do not consort, I do have the ears of a lot of people with whom I suspect you would like to consort since generally it is the IR group the chooses the databases and even marketing databases and resources to use and support with in the firm s . But c’est la vie as they say.

Thank you for making it so clear that you do not wish any business.

In her note to me forwarding the e-mails, she describes Janning’s reply as “perhaps the most arrogant and rude email I have ever received to such a simple question.” What is surprising to me is that I see a number of law firm advertisements on the site. Is this questionable company actually able to convince lawyers to advertise on this joke of a site? As I said in my original post, when I look at this site, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.