Pictured (top left to right): Bob Hoban, Brian Vicente, Bryce Blum, Hilary Bricken, Rod Kight, Sophie Alcorn, Genie Doi (images courtesy of respective firm’s websites / The Industry Lawyer illustration)
This past month we launched what has now become known as the Industry Lawyer Leaderboard. A scoreboard updated weekly to track and measure industry lawyer influence. It is our goal to – as accurately as possible – measure the influence that each individual lawyer has on their respective industries. In emerging industries like for instance: cannabis, where state and federal cannabis law regulations are constantly in flux – it’s these lawyers who play an integral role in the future of how entrepreneurs will go about their business.
To us here at the Industry Lawyer, business lawyers are the most interesting type of business professional – for they mix entrepreneurialism together with a healthy dose of risk aversion and a dash of deep industry knowledge. It’s interesting to think that business lawyers, who see hundreds of businesses go boom and bust, may be the most appropriate people to turn to for business wisdom and sound industry advice.
I thought it would be timely to spend a few minutes here, explaining what the Industry Lawyer Leaderboard is and how it works.
A Focus on Lawyers in Emerging Industries
Amongst those industries, there are some steadfast legal practice areas that are necessarily frame-worked in, such as immigration law, tax law, mergers and acquisitions, investment law, etc.
Point being, while the Leaderboard focuses on new, up and coming industries, you will see lawyers here that practice in age-old practice areas like immigration law, but specifically in an emerging industry. Like Genie Doi for instance (#7 on the Leaderboard currently), who happens to be an immigration lawyer for professional gamers in the esports (competitive video gaming) industry. Practicing immigration law is nothing new but when you practice it in the hyperfast world of esports, well that changes things a bit. Lawyers like Doi are essentially laying the legal groundwork for an entire billion dollar industry. We feel this is noteworthy.
What do we mean by an Industry Lawyer's "Influence?"
OK so we know the word ‘influence’ is getting thrown around a lot these days. So much so that it might even be considered passe. But not for what we are doing here. Forget social media for a moment and consider the definition of the word ‘influence’:
Here we’ll zero in on the words “capacity, effect and development.” In our case, we are looking to measure the capacity that an individual lawyer has to affect the development of their industry. In industry law, this shows itself via a lawyer who has been pushing for specific bills or legislation to be passed that could greatly affect the way companies do business in the state or country.
Such as in the case of Brian Vicente of Vicente Sederberg in Colorado, (#3 on the Leaderboard currently). Vicente was the lead drafter of Colorado’s historic legalization bill, Amendment 64, which pretty much paved the way for CO to build the country’s most favorable cannabis business friendly environment. So there’s the side of the policy influencer. But we also take into account the commercial influencer. Both policy and commercially focused lawyers are pivotal in the health of a growing emerging industry.
Then there’s Bryce Blum, of ESG Law (currently #1 on the Leaderboard). He is the lawyer who is widely recognized as basically inventing esports law. Blum, who saw the industry emerging – when nobody believed competitive video gaming could last, started it. He had the foresight to envision the legal issues that could arise in the future. Now that’s a kind of influence you can’t just get from getting a DM from a hot streetwear brand and throwing out a few hashtags on their behalf.
Over the course of the past six months we have been speaking with entrepreneurs, businesses, consultancies, even scientists to find out who they go to for legal help. When we call them we always ask for a referral. We want to find out who the most trusted business lawyers are. When an industry insider tells us who they trust, we treat their recommendation like gold – or for the Leaderboard’s purposes, like points.
Let’s get into how we score the Leaderboard now.
Scoring Methodology for the Industry Lawyer Leaderboard
Influence, we all got it, we all want it, so what do we do with it? (Parrotheads will get the reference…) Measuring influence isn’t an easy task so we’ve broken it down into unequal parts. First, you have industry reviews.
Industry Lawyer Reviews
This is pretty simple, as it should be. Each lawyer on our site has a profile, if you don’t see your favorite lawyer, tell us today! We build out profiles for those lawyers who have been recommended to us. Users, or industry insiders, can navigate to each attorney’s profile and leave a review. One review is weighted accordingly. The star rating system piggybacks off of the review and is also weighted accordingly. The most stars one lawyer can receive per review is five. So there you have it, a review plus a star rating.
Industry Lawyer Peer Referrals
In addition to asking entrepreneurs and industry leaders who they trust to handle their legal ‘stuff’, we also speak to lawyers constantly. Sometimes it’s top business lawyers who can tell you most precisely who the other top lawyers are, or those that they deeply respect. When a lawyer refers another lawyer to us we don’t take it lightly. A peer referral is weighted just above a review.
Lawyer Media Mentions
This point-getter is probably the most dynamic aspect that affects the layout of the Leaderboard. When an industry lawyer is mentioned or quoted… or featured in a relevant news article by an accredited source, they get a boost on the The Industry Lawyer Leaderboard. These points can rack up fast, sometimes too fast. Only media mentions within the past 12 months are considered as worthy for points and repeat presence in the same publication can only count as one mention. Media mentions display a lawyer’s expertise and authority – and are weighted accordingly.
Leadership (The highest praise)
Everytime we speak with a lawyer we ask them one important question: have you had any mentors or would you be comfortable naming any other lawyers who inspire you? It’s not an easy question to answer but when the answer is honest and insightful, the lawyers who get mentioned as mentors or pioneers tend to skyrocket up the Leaderboard. There is no way to measure influence without factoring in authentic, passionate leadership. This point-getter trumps them all.
Thought Contribution (+ Referrals)
This point system keeps the flywheel in tact. Without industry lawyers providing us with names of other admirable or influential business lawyers, the show can’t go on. So we reward those lawyers who ‘let us in’ and provide us with who they feel are also at the top of their respective industries. When a lawyer provides us with referrals, they will be rewarded, though not as much as the above factors.
Room for Error
The key words here are “as accurately as possible.” Currently there are just 70 lawyers listed on the Industry Lawyer Leaderboard. Obviously the work is in progress. All said, each industry has hundreds of influential lawyers doing battle everyday to make business better. I think of Courtney Moran, a hemp lawyer based in Oregon, who is currently battling over a hemp bill that expires in Feb 2021. She’s going to work every single day pushing for the right kind of treatment and policies governing the burgeoning hemp industry. It’s tough to put a number on the work an industry lawyer like Moran is actually doing. If you have a tip, thought or concern, please feel free to hit the contact page and send us your thoughts.