From time to time the Insider likes to take a look back at previous stories and people who’ve made news in the Augusta area and bring our readers up to date with current developments. Atlanta and Augusta attorney Joe Neal, Jr. is always good for an interesting story and our look at his website (neal-law.com) shows that he has been busy since we last featured him in a non-music festival feature.
Neal ‘s website shows logos and claims awards from no less than avvo.com (an easily manipulated website with uncontrolled, anonymous reviews), The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers (which does have some very good trial lawyers as members, but according to legal insiders is a little spotty and inconsistent) and Rue Ratings (which legal insiders opine is the equivalent of the “Who’s Who of American High School Students” books that you could pay to be in back in high school).
Joe Neal’s website also displays an award of the coveted “AV” rating for ethical standards and legal ability from well-respected and well-known rating agency Martindale-Hubbell at martindale.com. Martindale-Hubbell is generally considered the gold standard for peer review of attorneys. In Neal’s case, the Insider found 12 peer review comments, some of which were duplicates. Of these 12, nine were posted on the same day, August 20, 2013. These comments resulted in a peer review rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 on the website. There was only one client review at the time the Insider checked just prior to publication. While the timing of that could be coincidental, no reasonable person would believe it to be so. Could that be a coordinated campaign to obtain a rating?
Neal has also enjoyed some other awards of a national scope that we did not find on his website. On March 8, 2012, he was awarded abovethelaw.com’s (a National Legal Website with 1,000,000 unique visitors per month as of July 2013) “Lawyer of the Day” award (an anti-award) with the headline “Non-Consensual Sex, Drugs and a Smokin’ Ex-Wife.” Readers may recall the subject as being Neal’s indictment, along with former wife Caroline Caldwell Neal, for rape and furnishing alcohol to a minor, the minor in question being their babysitter at the time.
On April 5 of that year, he was nominated for and came in third in the March Above the Law “Lawyer of the Month” voting for the same story. He placed fifth in the July 5, 2012, voting after his sentencing following a plea bargain, being surpassed in the voting by, among others, a husband and wife team of attorneys who planted drugs on a teacher’s assistant at their child’s school in an attempt to have her arrested.
Martindale-Hubbell “AV” rated stuff all the way. None of that was on his website. In fact, while there is a “Neal Law Breaking News” press release of Neal’s settlement of a large case with the City of Augusta on the site, there is no mention at all of his being sentenced to wash trucks at the Columbia County Wastewater Treatment Plant for the above-mentioned criminal prosecution. Above the Law picked that one up on June 14, 2012. You would think prospective clients would want to know about that. Not everyone reads Above the Law.
Maybe Mr. Neal should tell the entire story on his website. We’ll keep checking back and let you know what happens.