Awards for Lawyers: Daily Journal’s Legal Rankings Overview [California Lawyers Only]

The Los Angeles/San Francisco Daily Journal is a leading publication for lawyers in California. The daily newspaper and its corresponding website publish important decisions, breaking legal news, expert columns, and attorney and judge profiles. And, fittingly, the Daily Journal also publishes a number of lawyer rankings and special reports.

Awards and deadlines can change from year to year, but generally, the Daily Journal offers several rankings related to practice areas, including intellectual property and labor and employment. The newspaper also recognizes top women lawyers, the best boutique firms, and young lawyers (Top 40 Under 40). Its most general list is the Top 100, which includes lawyers from all practice areas and demographics.

There’s not much information available about the Daily Journal’s selection process. But considering that the Daily Journal is a leading legal voice in California, its lists seem like a genuine attempt to rank the best lawyers in the state.

Why You Should Apply (And Why You Shouldn’t)

There are almost 40 million lawyers in California, and most of them probably read the Daily Journal at least occasionally. Daily Journal rankings are competitive and come with a major benefit: winners are published in special supplements throughout the year. That means lots of your colleagues will see your honor. Even people who don’t read the Daily Journal will be impressed—being able to say you were named a top lawyer by a reputable publication will definitely score you points with potential clients.

On the other hand, the application is dependent mostly on short summaries of major matters you’ve worked on in the past year, which can become an issue if most of your cases and clients are confidential. The Daily Journal requires that all information be provided for a case to be considered, no matter how high-profile it is.

Although the newspaper does not publish confidential information, and judges won’t contact clients unless you’re selected to the list, many attorneys are concerned about providing sensitive information to a legal publication. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing the details of your biggest cases, Daily Journal rankings may not be the best choice for you.

Daily Journal Award Overview

Applications Due (typically): Daily Journal offers a slate of awards with deadlines throughout the year. Nominations for the largest award, Top 100, are usually due in the summer between June and August. Check the nominations page to see which deadlines are coming up.

Recipients Notified (typically): Applicants are generally notified within two months of the submission deadline.

Award Recipients: Top 100 and most other Daily Journal awards are open to individual attorneys, though some, like Top Boutiques, are open to firms. Awards are only given to California bar members based in California, although work can be performed anywhere in the world.

Annual Award: Yes, most Daily Journal awards are offered every year. Applicants can apply as many times as they wish, although once selected, it’s unlikely they’ll be selected for the same award again for at least several years, if at all.

Estimated Cost: It’s free to apply for all Daily Journal awards, and there is no expectation to purchase additional marketing materials.

Award Recognition Promotion Options:

  • Newsletter/Digital Magazine Inclusion: Yes
  • Physical Magazine promotions: No magazine, but winners are included in physical copies of the Daily Journal newspaper.
  • Plaques: No
  • Physical Awards: No
  • Press Release Options: No
  • Directory Inclusion: No
  • Additional Advertising Options: No
  • Branded Bragging rights: Daily Journal doesn’t offer badges or use of its logo, but you’re welcome to name drop the award.


  • Expertise: Top 100 is open to all types of California lawyers in private practice, and there are numerous practice area-specific awards. Applications are open to all, but Daily Journal especially wants to see applicants who have impressive case histories, leadership positions in professional associations, and prior honors and awards.
  • Years of Legal Experience: Applications ask for summaries of major cases you’ve been lead counsel on in the last two years, so you must be at a point in your career where you’re regularly leading cases. There is no minimum requirement for years of experience, but the more history you have in the field, the more likely you’ll win.
  • Limit on # of Attorneys Nominated from Firm?: Daily Journal will consider multiple lawyers from the same firm, but it’s unlikely that judges will select more than one or two lawyers from the same firm in the same year.
  • Case Results/Outcomes? No specific requirements, but applications do require summaries of recent cases with docket numbers and references. Daily Journal will not consider confidential cases, so you must be willing to share the case and client name as well as the basic facts of the case.
  • Nominations/Recommendations? Lawyers can apply directly on the Daily Journal website, and self-nominations are accepted. Daily Journal asks for a client or supervisor contact for each case you include in your application, but they aren’t contacted unless you win.

How to Win

Applications are straightforward and similar for all awards. Daily Journal asks for one or two sentences about why you’re the top attorney in your field—short and to the point. The application also asks for a list of major matters you’ve been a part of in the last year, with case and client names, docket numbers, and a 150-word description for each.

This application isn’t extensive, so you need to cut out all the BS and distill your strengths down in a compelling way. For case descriptions, cut out nonessential details while still driving home why the case is important (and why your work on it is so impressive). Since you have such little space to stand out from other applicants, make every word count.

The Bottom Line

For California lawyers, the Daily Journal offers several opportunities to be recognized (if you’re willing to spill the details about your cases to a newspaper). Don’t worry, though—these are legitimate awards that look great on a website or resume.

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