Love, Hate, and AVVO

Generally attorneys do not like AVVO. I pay AVVO to advertise for me and it has produced a few clients, but, generally, I think it is a disservice to the public and is a burden to attorneys. A link to a blog post that sees AVVO differently is included at the end of this post.

AVVO Questions

The most troubling part of AVVO is the “ask an attorney” section. Here anyone may post a question and any attorney may answer it. Attorneys receive points toward levels by answering these questions. I do not know what advancing up the levels does for the attorney, but it is a sufficient incentive that many attorneys answer questions even if they do not know enough to answer a specific question properly. Indeed, I often see attorneys from outside of Texas answering questions about Texas law. I do not know anything about the laws of New Hampshire and I suspect that most out-of-state attorneys don’t know much about Texas law. Additionally, the incentive program for attorneys on AVVO encourages attorneys to “agree” with answers provided by other attorneys―even when the answers are unhelpful. In other words, the attorneys who are answering the questions have a different incentive than the people who are asking the questions. This may create a false sense of security and put people who don’t have a legal background in difficult situations. Further, most legal questions require many steps (or answers) and AVVO’s structure does not allow for that. Great you have sued your boss, now what?

Another problem is that the AVVO format does not permit me to ask questions to clarify the person’s question. I have never had a client come into my office and clearly and specifically identify the relevant legal issue. Instead, we identify the legal issue together through discussion and conversation. This is not feasible on AVVO.

AVVO Scores

There are loads of attorneys who have the top ranking, but many of these are people I would not trust to peel an orange. Conversely there are people who are not concerned about their AVVO scores who I would hire to represent me. And of course there are those with the good AVVO score that I would hire. In other words, the AVVO score alone does not mean much.

AVVO Client Reviews

Many clients are too busy to worry about posting a review on the attorney’s AVVO page. The only ones who are really interested in doing this are the clients who are not happy with the outcome of their case or are otherwise unhappy with the attorney. These reviews do not go into the overall AVVO score, but can have an important effect on a client’s decision to retain a particular attorney. Hiring an attorney is not like ordering a pizza. Mostly, pizza that comes from the same restaurant is going to be the same each time. That lends itself well to online reviews. However, an attorney’s success in representing a client depends heavily on the facts and circumstances of a case not to mention the law. I am an appellate attorney and this is especially true in my practice. It is often difficult to undo a verdict or a judgment when the trial attorney did not object or when he did he did so improperly. I am stuck with their errors. If a client’s case doesn’t come out well it is often because by the time I got the case it was already in a very bad condition. Understandably, potential clients often have trouble making these distinctions.

Other AVVO Issues

When AVVO offers to have you call an attorney it generates its own phone number for that attorney and then forwards the call. The client and the attorney don’t know that this has happened and it is possible that the client will not have the attorney’s proper telephone number.

 

Finally, AVVO reports bar sanctions. First, in Texas many of these are private and so AVVO never knows about them. Thus an attorney who is reported to have no bar sanctions may indeed have one or many. Further, all sanctions are not created equally. Some sanctions many not concern a client but others should. AVVO does not do a good job distinguishing between such sanctions and creates a false sense of security in many other instances.

Conclusion

AVVO can be a tool in locating attorneys, but do not rely on it exclusively. Also be very careful in following the advice provided in the “as an attorney” section.

Opposing View

Of course the opinions here are my own. For a contrary opinion see the following link to a blog post that was created after the author interviewed the AVVO founder.

http://legaladmin.info/tag/lawyer-rating/