MILLION DOLLAR ADVOCATES FORUM
  MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR ADVOCATES FORUM

 
The Top Trial Lawyers In America

   


 
MEMBERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS &
APPLICATION PROCEDURE
(see also Membership Information page)
 
Since the Million Dollar Advocates Forum was founded in 1993, membership has been based upon strict and objective standards.  Each applicant is required to complete a detailed application demonstrating that he or she has met the basic qualification of having acted as Principal Counsel (as that term is defined in the membership application) in one or more cases which resulted in a final judgment (not subject to appeal or modification), award or settlement in favor of his or her client in the amount of one million dollars or more.  In 2007, in response to requests from members, the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum was added with regard to cases of two million dollars or more.
 
Applicants certify, as members of the Bar, that the information contained in the application is true.  It is the policy of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum that any false statement of a material fact in the application would represent an attempt by an applicant to hold himself or herself out as possessing experience and qualifications which were not truthful and accurate and, as such, would constitute a serious act of professional misconduct which would warrant disciplinary action by the Bar. 
 
Each application is reviewed by experienced trial counsel.  Additional or supporting information may be required, and applicants who do not clearly qualify are denied membership. If membership is denied, fees paid by the applicant are refunded.
 
Review of membership applications is generally completed within two weeks of receipt of application and any additional or supporting information required.  If approved for membership, an email notification is sent to the new member advising of such approval and that the member may proceed to hold himself or herself out as a member in any manner consistent with rules of professional conduct applicable in the jurisidction(s) in which the member practices (including use of the membership logos available on this website).  Within several weeks thereafter, a certificate of membership will be mailed to the new member, together with a press release announcing membership.  The press release is sent directly to the member for distribution as may be appropriate in the member's discretion.
 
There is a one-time fee for application, certification and membership.  Members may thereafter hold themselves out as members, in any manner consistent with rules of professional conduct applicable in the jurisidction(s) in which the member practices, for so long as he or she remains a member in good standing of the Bar.  There are no further or annual dues or fees to maintain membership.
 
The details of membership qualifications have been amended or expanded several times since 1993 in order to address various membership issues which have arisen from different case situations.  Such amendments have always been made within the original policy of applying strict and objective standards to membership. 
 
 
QUALIFICATIONS
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
 
Essential qualifications are stated in the Membership Applications as follows:

1. Applicant must be a current member of the Bar in good standing.

2. Applicant must have acted as principal counsel in one or more of the following:

a) A court or jury trial in which the applicant's client(s) received a verdict and entered final judgment in the amount of one million dollars or more.  Summary adjudication or default proceedings do not qualify.  The case must be final and not subject to appeal or other possible modification.

b) A binding arbitration proceeding, where evidence was presented, in which the applicant's client(s) received a final arbitrator's award in the amount of one million dollars or more.

c) Negotiation of a final settlement in which the applicant's client(s) received the sum of one million dollars or more.

3. Whether by trial, arbitration or settlement, if the award was by periodic payments or structured settlement, the one million dollar amount must apply to the economic present value of the award, not the overall payout amount.

4. Applicants must provide adequate information as to case identity to allow for verification. In most cases, certification will proceed upon the declarations of the applicant attorney. It is understood that there are confidential settlements which do not allow for case identification. In such cases, the applicant may provide a general description of the case, certifying such description as true.

The term "principal counsel" is intended to include the one or more attorneys who were primarily in charge of and responsible for the preparation, management and settlement/ arbitration/ trial of a qualifying case. It is not necessarily limited to one attorney, nor is it limited to lead (i.e. "first chair") trial counsel. It is recognized that the responsibility for, and management of, a complex case often involves a team of attorneys who serve as co-principal counsel with different responsibilities. However, it is not intended to include an attorney simply because he or she worked on the case, referred the case or brought the case into the office. It is presumed that an applicant who states that he or she was "principal counsel" in a qualifying case has clarified that status (as defined herein) with any co-counsel and that there is agreement among all co-counsel that the applicant acted in the capacity of principal counsel.

 
Additional clarification of qualification issues appears at the Membership Information page of this website as follows:
 

ISSUES REGARDING CASE QUALIFICATION
The Million Dollar Advocates Forum was founded in 1993 upon the basic qualification of a "trial verdict, award or settlement in the amount of One Million dollars or more". In the process of considering applications of prospective members, issues have arisen which have required continuing refinement of qualification standards and definitions. Current definitions and standards include the following (One Million Dollar references to be read as Two Million Dollars with regard to Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum):

Confidential Settlements
Qualifying settlements are often subject to confidentiality provisions.  In such cases, the applicant may provide a general description of the case, certifying as a member of the Bar that such description is true.  Such description must include sufficient information (to the extent allowed by the terms of the settlement) as to case identity, jurisdiction, case type and terms to identify a specific case, even if not by name.  For example: "Los Angeles Superior Court, 1999; medical malpractice, failure to diagnose breast cancer; Doe vs Roe Hospital, et al.; settled for $2 Million (present cash value)", or, if terms prevent stating the amount, "settled for payment of One Million Dollars or more (present cash value)".  We prefer to have as much specificity as possible.  If the information provided is stated to be confidential, we will not divulge it absent legal obligation to do so. 

Entry Of Final Judgment Or Final Settlement
There must be an entered final judgment or a final (present cash value) settlement in the amount of One Million Dollars or more.  A verdict which does not result in a final entered judgment (or a settlement) of One Million Dollars or more does not qualify.

Definition Of "Principal Counsel"
The term "principal counsel" is intended to include the one or more attorneys who were primarily in charge of and responsible for the preparation, management, settlement and trial of a qualifying case. It is not necessarily limited to one attorney, nor is it limited to lead (i.e. "first chair") trial counsel. It is recognized that the responsibility for, and management of, a complex case often involves a team of attorneys who serve as co-principal counsel with different responsibilities. However, it is not intended to include an attorney simply because he or she worked on the case, referred the case or brought the case into the office.
  Where a case has concluded in trial (as opposed to settlement), and one of the principal counsel in the case did not actively participate in the trial, all counsel in the case should agree as to their co-principal counsel status. Therefore, it is presumed that an applicant who states that he or she was "principal counsel" in a qualifying case has clarified that status (as defined herein) with co-counsel and that there is agreement among all co-counsel that the applicant acted in the capacity of principal counsel.

Definition Of "Final Judgment"
If the qualifying case was a jury trial verdict or court trial decision, there must have been entry of a final judgment. The judgment must be: 1) entered; and, 2) no longer subject to change. The judgment is not "final" for purposes of qualification if it is subject to post-trial motions or appeal.  A judgment reversed on appeal does not qualify.

Settlement After Trial (without entry of judgment)
In some cases, a trial may result in an award of One Million Dollars or more and then the case is settled post-trial and dismissed without a final judgment being entered.  In such cases, regardless of the amount of the trial verdict, the amount of the ultimate settlement (One Million Dollars or more, present value) is the determining factor for qualification.   Example: verdict of One Million Dollars, post-trial settlement of $750,000 with dismissal of case (and, therefore, no entry of One Million Dollar judgment) - does not qualify.

Settlement After Trial (with entry of final judgment)
If a verdict is in the amount of One Million Dollars or more, and a final judgment is entered, a case will qualify even if an ultimate settlement is reached which is less than One Million Dollars.  The determining factor in such a case is the final entry of judgment in the qualifying amount.  Example: verdict of One Million Dollars, with final judgment entered in such amount, and then settled for $750,000 - qualifies.

Settlement After Trial Verdict Of Less Than One Million Dollars
Regardless of the amount of a trial verdict, if the ultimate settlement is One Million Dollars or more the case qualifies based upon such settlement.

Effect Of Damage Cap Laws
Some states have statutory limits on the amount of damages which may be awarded in certain types of cases (e.g., medical malpractice claims in California, government tort claims in New Mexico) which may result in a verdict being reduced prior to entry of judgment.  The final entered judgment (after any such reduction) must be in the amount of One Million Dollars or more.

Costs, Interest & Fees As Part Of Judgment
A judgment will qualify if the amount entered as the final judgment is One Million dollars or more, or if the amount actually paid (with costs, interest, fees, etc.) is One Million Dollars or more. 

Summary Adjudication And Default Judgments
Judgments entered upon summary adjudications and default judgments do not qualify. Qualification as a verdict or award requires presentation of evidence at a contested trial or binding arbitration proceeding.

Award To Multiple Clients
Qualifications require that the applicant's client(s) received a verdict, award or settlement in the amount of One Million Dollars or more. If the applicant represented more than one client in a single case and the total verdict, award or settlement to such clients was One Million dollars or more the case qualifies. However, amounts awarded to others (not the applicant's own clients) in the same case do not apply to qualification. 

 

 
QUALIFICATIONS
Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
 
All qualifications for the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum are the same as for the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, except as follows:
 
1.     All references to "one million dollar or more" are changed to "two million dollars or more".
 
2.     To become a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an applicant must either: a) already be a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, or b) apply concurrently for membership in both (see Application for Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum).
 
 
 
MEMBERSHIP INVITATIONS
 
Membership invitations are sent only to attorneys who objectively appear to be qualified, including those whose names are proposed for membership from the report of a large case or upon nomination by a current member.  Other qualified attorneys may apply for membership.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
P.O. Box 2684
Del Mar, CA 92014
Tel: 858.792.6100
Fax: 858.792.6101
e-mail: members@MillionDollarAdvocates.com  
 
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