“It’s basically a pay-to-play issue of D Magazine that is very easy to get listed in,” Matt Rinaldi, an attorney and state representative emeritus, told Dallas Express.
Once a professional is selected as a winner, he or she is provided with exclusive opportunities to advertise with pricing ranging from $3,250 for a quarter page to $19,800 for a two-page spread, according to documents obtained by Dallas Express.
“All you need to get into D Magazine is have a few lawyer friends nominate you or put your name in,” Rinaldi said. “So, each person can nominate one person in their firm and two people outside their firm. What people usually do, who rely on that advertising, is send emails to all their lawyer friends.”
Among the 40 categories in which a lawyer can be nominated are appellate, class action, family law, immigration, mass tort, probate, real estate, environmental and insurance law.
“In the end, somewhere between 600 and 800 lawyers are chosen as the best lawyer in Dallas each year,” Rinaldi said. “If you search their directory, there’s something like 4,300 total lawyers listed. I didn’t even know there were that many lawyers in Dallas.”
Rinaldi was nominated in 2006 and 2007 before he was elected and served as a state representative from 2015 to 2019 in District 115.
“I don’t know many lawyers who haven’t been nominated,” Rinaldi said. “If I’m friends with them and they ask to be nominated, I’ll do them a favor and nominate them so they can get the advertising in the magazine. Once you do get nominated, they send a packet where they try to hard-sell you on advertising.”
For example, a 2021 congratulatory letter signed by D Magazine editor Tim Rogers addressed to a winner states:
“You have been selected as a Best Lawyer in Dallas 2021 and will be featured in the May issue of D Magazine…. Please note that this is an editorial feature; you will still be named a winner in the issue regardless of your decision to advertise. Please do not publicize this achievement until after Best Lawyers in Dallas is published in late April. Thank you for making Dallas a better place. We look forward to speaking with you in the coming weeks.”
Although Rinaldi opted out of the opportunity when he was nominated, winners are given the opportunity to approve their profiles before publication.
A D Magazine document promoting the listing states, “Step 3: Give your stamp of approval. Review your profile before it goes to print.”
“Their Best Lawyers in Dallas is just a ‘Who’s Who’ scam,” Rinaldi said. “It’s a glorified version of when college directories would call you up to include your name so that they could then sell you the directory.”
Another letter from D Magazine addressed to a winner announces “an optional profile opportunity” for the winner to showcase their naming.
“The sales are directed more toward younger lawyers because it’s also an opportunity to sell their magazine to the hundreds of people that they list in there and some of them will buy several copies because it’s like a ‘Who’s Who’ issue that they want to give to their parents and their friends,” Rinaldi added.