More Avvo Criticism & Possibly a Way to Game Avvo’s Defective Rating System

04
Dec
2010
Posted by: charlesakrugel  /   Category: Business Management / Charles Krugel / Law / Legal / Media / Practicing Law   /   6 Comments »
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Because of my public criticism of Avvo, and their defective rating system, I get a lot of comments about them.  A brief summary of my crticism is that it’s biased against small and solo firms because larger firms have greater wherewithal to manage the extremely cumbersome Avvo profile process, and because Avvo won’t let an attorney “unclaim” a profile after “claiming” it (i.e., you can’t “unsubscribe).

Frankly, I don’t care whether I’m removed from Avvo or not, or whether Avvo exists or not.  I just want to “unclaim” my profile.  Avvo has a really sleazy operation. You can read my prior criticisms by searching Avvo in this blog or on Google. Some of the latest criticism, which was posted as a comment to an earlier posting, is from a law office which states that:

“I was suspended in 1996. Yet due to computers I can never get away from that. It shows up on the profile in bright red and as much as tells everyone that I must be no good. So, no matter how good a lawyer I am I will never get away from having been suspended. It is the one and only item that I am clearly rated on. Today I had another lawyer indicate that he would disclose my suspension in court. I have heard it a thousand times and I am mostly protected by Rule 404 of Evidence, but not on this site. I like to think that I have many good qualities that cannot be reduced to a red-ink sentence on the website. I need to get off of AVVO.”

The problem, as I indicated, is that once you’re on Avvo, you’re stuck.  There’s no way to “unclaim” your profile.  That’s just plain sleazy.

Additionally, the attorney emailed me the following additional comment:
“I talked to AVVO and to their general counsel.  They were adamant.  Therefore I have changed my profile in every way.  It is all still true, just not likely to direct possible clients to me.  I used an older picture that makes me look like I am raising kids.  (They are all in college.)   I listed my job with one of my small development companies.  Again, true.  I took out my phone and shortened my address.    Maybe this will distance me from AVVO.”

What I find really interesting about this comment is that it appears that there may be a way to game Avvo.  I haven’t tried this, because I don’t visit Avvo and I can no longer access my account (I wonder why  ), but if you put false information in your profile you might be able to drive your score down to zero or ten and maybe render the profile superfluous and unbelievable.

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6 Comments

  1. Conrad from Avvo December 5, 2010 at 10:26 am  / 

    Charles – not every lawyer appreciates the transparency that Avvo has brought to the legal industry, yet this is exactly what consumers want and deserve. This is why we will not remove profiles from Avvo. Our commitment to transparency has made us the number one legal directory in the world.

    I’m disappointed to read your recommendation responding to Avvo’s transparency with fabrications. I would strongly caution any lawyer against deliberately and proactively misrepresenting their background anywhere – on a resume, at a cocktail party or on Avvo. The professional ramifications of this highly unethical behavior are severe.

    Finally, if you are having trouble accessing your account, email customercare@avvo.com for assistance.

    Regards,
    Conrad Saam

  2. J. E. June 7, 2011 at 11:43 pm  / 

    AVVO is the scammiest.

    1. Cannot unclaim profiles
    2. Anybody can leave “client” reviews
    3. Unsolicited endorsements from other attorneys!?!?!

    Don’t claim profiles on AVVO

  3. Steven H. Larrabee January 3, 2015 at 3:53 pm  / 

    I this AVVO is a scam and extortion racket. I’m a sole practitioner who was cold-called repeatedly by an AVVO rep. They pointed out this incredibly bad anonymous review of me on my profile and said they could fix it if I signed up with them for 3 months at $100 a month. They took down the bad review and then I gave them my debit card number. As soon as they got my money they put the bad review back up. When I complained they said there was nothing they could do about it but that they would work on it. When my 3 month contract was up December 1, I called them up and cancelled with them. They said, ” oh you have another month to go. We’re charging another $100 on January 1. ” They said the first month was “prorated” (in my case $98) and that the 3-month membership started after that. I told them I disputed that and that they were not authorized to charge anything more in my card. I changed the card number on 12/31/14 but they ran another $100 on 1/2/15. My bank said the charge may be rejected. If not I. Should complete a card fraud affidavit. If they charges go through I’m reporting them to the King County Prosecuting Attorneys Office for credit card fraud. They can’t keep running charges on my account without my permission on a debt I dispute.

  4. Annoyed April 26, 2015 at 1:25 am  / 

    I find it laughable that Conrad Saam claims Avvo brings “transparency” to the legal profession. I have not been a practicing attorney in more than 15 years, yet Avvo has me listed as an attorney in a jurisdiction in which I am not licensed to practice, and includes an old home address in that jurisdiction where I haven’t lived in more than 13 years. Add to this the fact that I am on inactive status in the jurisdiction where I am actually licensed to practice, and Avvo is a joke.

  5. Slandered Counsel October 24, 2015 at 2:11 pm  / 

    I am an exemplary attorney. I had a client post a negative, false, and libelous review in retaliation for not refunding thousands of dollars of fees because of his constant calling and emails, all of which were billable. However, due to the ethical requirements that an attorney keep a client’s information CONFIDENTIAL, there is no way to defend myself against the lies he has told and damaged my business. AVVO takes no responsibility for the negative, false reviews, but will post and laud fake, anonymous reviews attorneys have their staff members post on AVVO. Ridiculous scam of a website.

  6. Avblow February 21, 2017 at 5:23 pm  / 

    Avvo’s business model was originally developed by Don Corleone. Here’s how the business model works as applied at its most intimate level: Avvo does not have consent to use the information it misappropriates from other websites to initially create attorney profiles. Instead, it scrapes the Internet for any information it can find on every attorney it can identify, from a reputable source or otherwise, and then it compiles some sort of unilaterally created profile that is supposed to represent the attorney. This representation of the attorney’s skills and expertise in their field is figured into a rating system by way of some “algorithm” which is used to convey to the public the attorney’s professional competence. The term “algorithm” as used by Avvo is meant to elicit feelings of reliability, complexity, and trust without having to explain how its rating system actually works.

    The algorithm is very scientific and accurate. It is so on point that attorneys can actually leave themselves reviews whereby that attorney’s rating will fluctuate, accordingly. Similarly, any weirdo with an Internet connection can leave a bad review. Both will affect the attorney’s rating. The fact that this is possible, yet Avvo holds out its rating system to be credible, is absurd. Moreover, by simply claiming one’s profile, that attorney’s rating becomes instantly better. In reality, claiming a profile has absolutely nothing to do with any attorney’s skills, ethics, or competence. It follows that Avvo represents to the public that attorneys who choose not to claim a profile versus the ones that do are less competent professionally. The foregoing, taken together as a whole, gleans that Avvo’s rating system is wholly inept, completely arbitrary, and clearly misrepresentative. Again, it’s a very scientific algorithm.

    Every attorney has worked tirelessly to become a member of their respective bar. Attorneys continue to work tirelessly because the law never sleeps, and all they have is their ethics, knowledge, and reputation. What Avvo does, at its core, is that it takes advantage of this by inaccurately representing to the public what attorneys have worked so hard to achieve. Because they have worked so hard for it, Avvo knows that they will fight dearly to protect it. When an attorney hears that they are being represented to the public with any scintilla of inaccuracy or negativity, the knee jerk response is to remedy, and rightfully so. Avvo utilizes this through a toothless rating system that can only be made better by either participating with the company or by paying it money.

    Additionally, many, if not all of the websites Avvo scrapes information from, have their own terms and conditions pertaining to the information hosted on their website(s) and the subsequent use thereof. It is highly likely that Avvo violates these terms and conditions when it scrapes this information from the website(s) in order to convert same for its own commercial purposes.

    Essentially, Avvo pirates information from different websites in order create profiles. Then, Avvo uses attorney names and likenesses in these profiles so Avvo can attract advertisers for its own commercial gain. Avvo stands to profit from ads that will be placed on attorney’s faces, however the attorney receives no compensation, and there is nothing they can do about it; unless, of course, they pay Avvo $50 per month. What’s more, is that Avvo maximizes their gain by letting direct competitors in the same market place ads on the others’ profile. Thus, if one attorney chooses to submit to Avvo’s extortionistic business practices, then they will have a means to directly affect his or her competitor’s business, and the only way to stop it is to pay Avvo money and participate on their website.

    Avvo will refuse to delete any attorney profiles in spite of direct and repeated requests to do so. Avvo’s unilateral insistence on its adhesive terms and policies are simply that; a unilateral insistence only applicable to itself, however they act as if they are applicable to people who have never had any contact with the company or otherwise acquiesced to anything having to do with Avvo whatsoever. Avvo is absolutely free to delete any attorney profiles; it just chooses not to in an attempt to effectuate all of the foregoing.

    Ultimately, Avvo is a glorified Yelp, but with no credibility. It is a creative business model in that it actually does nothing of substance and is unaffected by its morally bankrupt posture, yet still stands to profit. If you are seeking an attorney, you will be wholly misguided by Avvo’s “rating” system. If you are an attorney, Avvo will make you an offer you can’t refuse.



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