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Should Bork Have Consulted Avvo?

Conservative legal blogger Ted Frank says that he finds one-time Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's slip-and-fall lawsuit against the Yale Club to be embarrassingly silly. Says Franks: "I sympathize with Judge Bork's serious injuries, but it's beyond me what his lawyers are thinking in asking for punitive damages."

We can only guess at what his lawyers were thinking, just as we can only guess at why Bork chose the lawyers he did. Whatever the reason, it demonstrates the problem with lawyer-ranking services such as the just-released Avvo,  says Carolyn Elefant writing at her blog My Shingle. Bork's lead lawyer, Randy Mastro, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, has an Avvo ranking of a mere 6.5 out of 10 -- a score that puts his legal abilities at just above average. (This, even though his law firm bio shows him to have received a litany of honors as "best," "super," "leading" and all the rest.)

Bork no doubt hired Mastro well before Avvo's launch this week, but had he been able to consult the service, would it have made any difference? Not likely, says Elefant, because clients choose lawyers based on their comfort level and their confidence in the person -- not because of a score. So what does that mean for the lawyer-rating services of the world?

"That in spite of efforts to objectively rank lawyers, a lawyers' ranking is probably the last thing that a client cares about in making a hire. Clients will choose lawyers based on their expressed opinions or as in the Bork case, a personal relationship. I've been hired for both reasons (my writings and personal recommendations) myself. In both cases, I wasn't necessarily the best lawyer for the job, but I was the right lawyer for the client. And at the end of the day, that's what matters -- and what we can't lose sight of -- when we market."

One Avvo-related footnote: See reports here and here about how Avvo put an untimely end to the career of J. Craig Williams.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 8, 2007 at 05:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

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