Avvo & Their Defective Lawyer Rating System Biased Against Solos & Small Firms

08
Jul
2008
Posted by: charlesakrugel  /   Category: Business Development / Charles Krugel / Law / Law Firm / Legal / Practicing Law / Professional Service Firm / Small Business / Starting a Law Practice   /   23 Comments »
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After reading a recent Chicago Tribune article regarding Avvo’s (www.Avvo.com) online lawyer rating system, I decided to check out the site for myself.

At first glance, the site looks interesting, useful and credible.  The same as many other online consumer, ratings, networking and other business related sites.  I enjoy these sites, use them and believe that they have valuable things to offer.  However, as I delved deeper into Avvo’s rating system, I discovered substantial issues and came to the realization that although the concept of publicly rating attorneys and other professionals is a great idea, in terms of execution, Avvo is really lacking.  Maybe it’s because the technology is still in its infancy.

My biggest concern, and I’ve already discussed this with Avvo’s customer support (see below emails between CS and me), is that I believe Avvo is medium to large firm friendly; it’s biased against solo practitioners and small firms.

More specifically, I think that because Avvo’s interface is very time consuming to use, it’s better geared towards firms that have the resources to devote to providing all of the information required and obtaining peer and client references (peer references from their own firm’s employees?).  Information requested by Avvo includes a credit card number, even though the site is free.  This aspect strikes me as odd, although it’s not a deal breaker.  Moreover, attorney peers who want to leave an endorsement for another attorney, like me, have to sign up for Avvo (i.e., what Avvo calls “claiming your profile) and provide the credit card information, again, even though Avvo is free (except for all of the time and effort to complete a profile).

There’s another huge difference between Avvo and other online networking and business sites.  Once a profile is “claimed” by an attorney (i.e., once an attorney joins Avvo) that attorney can’t quit/leave.  You’re stuck.

Below is an email exchange I had with an Avvo customer service representative, over the course of a few days.  It’s easy to read and follow.  Although she identified herself by name, I’ve removed her name.

Hi Charles,

Thank you for contacting Avvo.  Profiles on Avvo.com cannot be deleted
entirely.  The information in a lawyer profile is pulled from public
records and publicly available information. Now that you have claimed
your profile it cannot be un-claimed.

If you are concerned that public information we share on our website is
incorrect, please contact your state’s association directly.  Once the
information is updated in the public record, we can update it on Avvo.

Warm Regards,
Name Deleted
Avvo Customer Care

—–Original Message—–
From: cak1@charlesakrugel.com [mailto:cak1@charlesakrugel.com] Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 9:49 AM
To: Avvo Customer Care
Subject: Support Request: Cancelling/Un-claiming Profile/Account

Name: Charles Krugel
Email: cak1@charlesakrugel.com
Phone:
Subject Cancelling/Un-claiming Profile/Account

Message:
Hi,

I’d like to cancel my membership and un-claim my profile.  How do I do
that?

Thanks,

Charles Krugel

Avvo Customer Care <customercare@avvo.com>
dateMon, Jun 30, 2008 at 5:22 PM
subjectRe: Support Request: Cancelling/Un-claiming Profile/Account
mailed-bycharlesakrugel.com

My concern isn’t about the information available. My concern is that your website is disadvantaged against smaller firms and solo practitioners. Consider the following:

* I’ve asked some colleagues, small firm & solo practitioner, to provide endorsements. Some won’t because they find your site objectionable. Others won’t because they don’t want to feel committed to “claiming” their profile and providing credit card info., and taking up their time with needless red tape. Larger firms won’t have the same problem. They can provide a corporate credit card no. and give each other endorsements.

* It takes a lot more time and energy for a small firm & solo practitioner to complete a profile than it does a larger firm. They can devote people to fill out such a profile. It’s taking me too long and too much hassle to do yours.

I don’t care if you keep my profile up on your site or not. I just don’t want it to indicate that I’ve “claimed” it, and I want all of the info. that I added including my photo removed. Once you’ve made your site more small firm and solo practitioner friendly, maybe I’ll change my mind. In the meantime, I don’t wish to affiliate myself with your site.

I hope that you don’t plan to ignore my request or tell me that you can’t permit me to unclaim my profile as I’d hate to see something like this needlessly escalate into something bigger. I’ll wait up to 3 business days for your response, then I’ll respond accordingly.

Thanks,

Charles Krugel

Charles Krugel <cak1@charlesakrugel.com>
dateMon, Jun 30, 2008 at 6:29 PM
subjectRE: Support Request: Cancelling/Un-claiming Profile/Account
mailed-byavvo.com
hide details Jun 30 (7 days ago)
Reply

Hi Charles,

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback.  I’m sorry you feel this way; we have actually created Avvo with the small firm and solo practitioner in mind.  We give you a free online profile to manage your online presence and reputation, putting you on an even playing field with other attorneys in your area that focus in a similar practice area.  Placement cannot be purchased, your placement in the search results is based on the information provided in your profile and how that information matches the needs of the user.

I understand there is an initial time investment to upload your information, but after you are finished uploading your information potential clients will have the ability to contact you after reviewing your information, giving you a more qualified lead.  You might be interested in reading about Shelly Crocker’s experience using Avvo.  She is located in Seattle and has had great success generating clients after uploading her information.  http://www.law.com/jsp/legaltechnology/pubArticleLT.jsp?id=1202422012652

Profiles cannot be un-claimed.  I have however removed your photo from your profile.

Warm Regards,

Name Deleted

Avvo Customer Care

fromCharles Krugel <cak1@charlesakrugel.com>
toAvvo Customer Care <customercare@avvo.com>
dateTue, Jul 1, 2008 at 5:54 PM
subjectRe: Support Request: Cancelling/Un-claiming Profile/Account
mailed-bycharlesakrugel.com
hide details Jul 1 (6 days ago)
Reply

In my opinion, you’re wrong about the “level playing field.”  As I indicated previously, you’re website is much better suited for medium to larger sized firms, because they have the wherewithal to handle all of the time and energy expenses of coordinating your profile.  Your website isn’t easy to maneuver through, and I’m my own webmaster.  I handle HTML, CSS, FTP, etc., on my own.  The reason that I’m interested in disaffiliating myself from your site is because I unfortunately came to realize your shortcomings after I “claimed” my profile.

This will be my last time contacting you directly.  I’ll be posting about my experiences with your site on my website/blog shortly.

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23 Comments

  1. Freeman July 24, 2008 at 3:10 pm  / 

    I am really enjoying your posts “labor and employment” .. thanks very much for sharing!

  2. Linda August 1, 2008 at 12:06 pm  / 

    Avvo’s rating system maybe biased, however I have to give them their piece for getting the attention they need to grow. They’re slowly growing and it’s partly to us giving them this type of attention. Anyway from a growth perspective, they’ve got many lawyers and this means they’ll probably be more exposed than other websites.

    As we’re in the law topic, the other day I ran into another new kid in the block named lawyerahead (www.lawyerahead.com). Not sure how their internal system works but their concept is about “Present your case. Find the right lawyer”. Users can either present their case only to lawyers or publicly, where others can read their case and give input. It seems to be working by the number of cases in the system. It seems like they started late last year. I don’t think Avvo and Lawyerahead are competing, since the models seems to be completely different.

    In the end it’s about the customer. What is the user going to feel, whose going to have the most value. Anyway I have to give some kudos to lawyerahead. Fresh idea and potentially a new way of looking at how legal services can be provided.

  3. Joe August 18, 2008 at 12:44 pm  / 

    Although the lawyer ratings can be useful, avvo.com is not.

    Martindale Hubbell has for years published credible attorney rankings. Its methodology is transparent and credible, and its rating are avallable for free at http://www.martindale.com.

    Avvo appears to be a scam which deflates a lawyer’s ranking unless he or she “claims” his or her profile (and provide personal information, and a credit card),

  4. charlesakrugel August 19, 2008 at 1:25 pm  / 

    Thanks for your comment Joe.

    I’m actually in favor on online ranking/evaluation systems, especially if they’re free. But you’re right about Avvo’s “claiming” system being a scam. I more or less said the same thing in my post. I contacted Avvo’s CS to try to “unclaim” my profile, but they refused. Avvo’s deficiencies is one of the reasons I started posting “Client Testimonials” on my site.

    Sincerely,

    Chuck Krugel

  5. Bill June 1, 2010 at 9:20 am  / 

    http://www.lawyerscasebook.com is the best value for lawyers looking to market there law firm.

    Lexis uses Martindales as a sale tool to sell Lexis Nexis Products. They have sales reps call and tell you it is time to review your rating. Then once they get to your office they try to sell you more over priced Lexis Products.

    AVVO is the same way they are all about the dollar and not providing any long term value for your firm.

    LawyersCasebook charges 65 dollars per year and is worth every penny.

    This is not an ad for them just some friendly advice!!

    Good Luck Marketing Your Practice!!

  6. Joe October 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm  / 

    Waaaaah! Big firms have resources to fill out their profile!!

    It seems from your correspondence and your readiness to “escalate the matter” that you have plenty of time to fill out silly profile page. What a silly argument.

  7. charlesakrugel October 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm  / 

    You overlooked my key concern with Avvo. They don’t let you “unclaim” your profile. That to me is why they’re useless & sleazy. Once you’re in, you’re in. If they’d permit someone to “unclaim” their profile, then I’d have no issue.

  8. mukilteolawoffice November 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm  / 

    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.

  9. charlesakrugel November 9, 2010 at 10:45 am  / 

    Good luck with that! Once your on Avvo, there’s no way out. The best you can do is to not “claim” your profile. That’s where I made my mistake–I “claimed” my profile thinking that it would be beneficial. Once I realized that it was a waste of time, and that Avvo is biased in favor of larger firms, I came to realization that you can’t “unclaim” your profile.

  10. savaa January 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm  / 

    Sue them.

  11. Former Avvo Attorney February 20, 2011 at 10:39 am  / 

    They’ve already been sued and although the judge noted that AVVO is highly questionable in its alleged “algorythm” the court dismissed the case saying the AVVO system is better than nothing. Such legal reasoning is, well, typical when judges are political animals dependant on being appointed through the political process.

    I talked with one AVVO attorney and asked how he had so much time to post so many “guides” (over 50 per week) and he admitted to having students and interns that worked for him for nothing writing them for him.

    Hardly speaks well for the integrity of the “algorythm” or the overall system that gives high visibility to those who produce the most.

  12. Jonathan C. Reed May 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm  / 

    As a lawyer in a 3 person Las Vegas, Nevada firm I don’t agree with your view that avvo.com is biased against small law firms. I think back to the “old days” when Martindale-Hubbell was the only rating game in town. Both rating systems depend in part on recommendations from other atorneys. Both can be “abused” by having “power broker” big shot attorney ask other lawyers to recommend a colleague. The target of this request doesn’t want to offend “power broker” big shot so writes the recommendation for the colleague. But, if you go thru avvo.com listings you will see that more solos and small firms (at least in my town of Las Vegas) “claim” their free profiles than big law firms. Also your online profile at avvo.com is free. Now, Martindale Hubbell will rate you but won’t list your rating online unless you pay them.
    I do agree that it is burdensome for an attorney who not “claimed” his or her avvo.com profile to recommend you.

  13. charlesakrugel May 22, 2011 at 9:56 am  / 

    Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for commenting on my website regarding Avvo. You raise a good point about the M-H comparison. Still, I think it’s sleazy of Avvo to not allow an attorney to “unclaim” their profile. Like I’ve said before, I don’t care whether I’m on Avvo or not, I just want to “unclaim” my profile.

    Sincerely,

    Charles Krugel

  14. Maggie Clancy June 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm  / 

    AVVO does not review alleged “client” reviews before they are posted – so says the email they sent me after a criminal client (my only kind) complained about me. The complaint referenced a type of case I’ve never even handled. Oh, and they posted that I was a drug addict. Maybe ask the attorney? Especially one without any disciplinary problems.

    AVVO also lists incorrect info about me, which could result in my losing clients. Long story short, I think they are interfering with my business, among other torts.

    It only scores what other people write. So for example, I could get my husband to write 50 clients reviews, I don’t think you have to give an email even.

    Maggie

  15. kolonihaver til salg i brøndby February 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm  / 

    I comment whenever I like a post on a site or if I have something to add to
    the conversation. It is caused by the passion communicated in the article I looked
    at. And after this post Avvo & Their Defective Lawyer
    Rating System Biased Against Solos & Small Firms. I was excited enough to drop a leave a responsea response ;)
    I actually do have some questions for you if you don’t mind. Is it only me or do some of these remarks appear like coming from brain dead people? :-P And, if you are writing on other online sites, I would like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Could you list all of your community sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  16. charlesakrugel March 7, 2013 at 11:32 am  / 

    Thanks for your comments.

    The remarks you mention are from people who either don’t trust or respect Avvo. My own opinion is that Avvo is sleazy in the regard that once you “claim” your profile, you can’t “unclaim” it; you’re stuck without recourse. I have no objection to Avvo’s existence, nor do I care if I’m on it. I just want to “unclaim” my profile.

    Others agree with me, or have their own opinions about Avvo’s system, which does appear to be a “pay for play” sort of system; i.e., if you pay for advertising, sponsorship, etc., you’ll get a higher rating.

    Thanks for asking about my other media activities. I have my own LinkedIn group, Charles Krugel’s Labor & Employment Law & Human Resources Practices Group. Currently, that has 2095 members from all sectors of HR & labor & employee relations & law. I also have my own YouTube channel, this contains my video interviews & presentations. I’m not on Twitter or Facebook however. Otherwise, you can also follow my “Me in the Media” page on this website to keep up with me.

  17. Mike April 4, 2013 at 7:16 pm  / 

    They are really not helpful or actually look anything up. I asked about how to add someone that committed adultery with my wife because I was filing my divorce as adultery. I got back an answer about Puritans and blah blah and then another attorney states I agree with my colleague that in most jurisdictions adultery is not a crime. It was like a pissing match but I myself easily took them down. I even kept posting to them and asking them to answer the question dont give me some side kick crap because you dont know it. I posted the Title and Chapter so they can see. Yet in Utah and Idaho it is a felony and grounds for divorce. it was posted under 2 categories and one finally tried to say that well its listed under immigration. DUH and Marriage. BUT STILL YOUR ANSWER WASNT AN ANSWER TO ANYTHING ASKED. I wouldnt waste my time with that site again. Its like teaching a dog to sit and saying it over and over again as they keep leaping forward for that treat in your hand. You would think they would actually pull a book off the shelf or google idaho laws its really not that hard to do

  18. Douglas J. Callahan August 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm  / 

    Dear Mr. Krugal,

    Your objection to AVVO’S bias against solo ptactioners is well taken.

    I dropped my previous website in favor or AVVO and despite over nine communications, I still cannot get my Email and password operable for AVVO.
    The customer service for me was a person who wanted me off the phone pronto.

    When I attempted to integrate with social media, I was told that I was linked; but apparently not.

    It amounts to a possible breach of contract action or interference with contractual relations. AVVO did not honor our contract and is interfering with my Clients getting ahold of me.

    Now I am informed that I am somehow being stopped from posting this new message. It is getting closer to federal class action litigation time.

    Sincerely yours,
    Douglas J. Callahan
    Attorney at Law
    (810) 955-5248
    djcall242@ gmail.com

  19. Family Law Firms Tampa December 15, 2016 at 9:14 pm  / 

    I’ve gone ahead
    and included a backlink back to your web site from one of my
    clients requesting it. I’ve used your web site
    URL: http://www.charlesakrugel.com/professional-service-firm/avvo-their-defective-lawyer-rating-system.html and blog title:
    Avvo & Their Defective Lawyer Rating System Biased Against Solos & Small
    Firms to guarantee you get the proper anchor text.

    If you woud like to see where your link has been placed, please email me at:
    jacelynguidry@gmail.com.
    Many thanks



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