More Reaction to Avvo's Lawyer Ratings
My colleague Carolyn Elefant wrote a detailed post here yesterday about the launch of the lawyer-rating site Avvo, and I wrote about it as well at my LawSites blog. My overarching concern is that, in attempting to score lawyer quality, Avvo seeks to measure the immeasurable. Among my other concerns was that Avvo, relying as it does on publicly available information from the Web and other sources, would discriminate against smaller-firm lawyers who lack sophisticated Web sites and PR consultants. In a comment to my post, Avvo co-founder Paul Bloom addressed several of my concerns. In particular, he spoke to the issue of Avvo's bias against small-firm lawyers:
"We actually designed the site to help level the playing field between small-firm and big-firm lawyers. For example, any lawyer can claim their profile for free, so now small firm lawyers without big marketing budgets can instantly get an online presence populated with as much information as they want (a recent ABA study reported that only 40% of solo practitioners have a web site). Avvo's peer endorsement feature is also helpful to small-firm attorneys by letting them show consumers the network of attorneys they have access to if needed to help with a case — an area where small-firm attorneys have sometimes been at a disadvantage compared to lawyers who work at large firms that have many lawyers under the same roof."
Meanwhile, reaction to the new service continues to come in from elsewhere in the blog space. Here is a sampling:
- Practice Management Blog: "I say ‘go get ‘em Avvo.’ It’s about time someone shed some light on this legal racket. Let’s get some real competition in here and restore our collective pride in serving the public, not just ourselves."
- Simple Justice: "Maybe someday the Avvo ratings will mean something, but for now, they are so utterly, completely and totally useless as to make me wonder what compelled them to open up their shop before they had their act together."
- Wired GC: "At first blush, you wonder if legal ratings might be better targeted at the corporate market rather than consumers. Some are working on this now."
- Legal SEO & Marketing Blog: "Avvo has two key features.... (1) a 'rating system' based on public information (how many years admitted, where you went to school, publications, disciplinary record) and (2) reviews and endorsements by attorneys and clients."
- CNET News: "Avvo's pages seemed to be riddled with bizarre errors, profiles of attorneys who have been dead for more than a century and inexplicable scores in which some felons received better ratings than law school deans and internationally renowned litigators."
- The Kelsey Group: "Some of this [lawyer criticism] is most likely sour grapes for lawyers with low ratings, but there could also be some legitimate concerns here that are worth noting, and possibly worth Avvo’s consideration for future generations of the product."
- Lonestar Consumer Network: "The advantage to a site like Avvo ... is that you have a voice as well and it's an opportunity to find all this information in one spot instead of having to search the Bar Association's records for sanctions and consumer complaints."
- Tech Law Prof Blog: "The rating algorithm is secret, so expect lawsuits from lawyers with low ratings. That's a natural."
- Tex Parte Blog: "The site lists as unknown the practice areas of several well-known Texas trial lawyers, such as Joe Jamail of Houston’s Jamail & Kolius; Harry Reasoner, former managing partner of Houston’s Vinson & Elkins; and Stephen Susman, a partner in Susman Godfrey in Houston."
- Plaintiff Trial Lawyer Tips: "As the saying goes 'garbage in, garbage out.' The result is a shot gun approach in which the conclusions in some cases are accurate and in other cases are totally inaccurate."
These comments show that Avvo's ratings will continue to generate controversy. But at Blawg's Blog, Bill Gratsch sees something he really likes in Avvo -- its commitment to providing its services "for free." Avvo is evidence, he says, "of a reemerging trend coming to the legal space. ... [T]he potential for viable for free websites supported by advertising, partnerships and affiliations is growing."
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 6, 2007 at 03:45 PM | Permalink
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