Disenchanted with Avvo

by Jamison Koehler on April 1, 2010

My niece attended her first baseball game when she was four or five years old. After the first inning or so, she announced that she was done with baseball. I am done with Avvo.

As reflected on the ABA listserv for solo practitioners, Solosez, other lawyers seem to have all sorts of concerns about this legal networking and referral service, the equivalent of LinkedIn for lawyers. Some people object to its seemingly arbitrary system of rating lawyers. Others are angry that, once claimed, an Avvo profile can never be unclaimed.

Still others object to Avvo’s seeming arrogance and disingenuousness. An Avvo representative came onto Solosez last week to try to dispel some of the concerns being discussed there, and ended up causing more problems than he solved.  Lawyers are behind the times, he wrote. They are technologically backward and fearful. Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with many of the over 3,000 lawyers who participate on Solosez.

I take a far more selfish approach. I don’t have any philosophical concerns. I look instead at results. I want to know how it affects my practice. And so far it has not been a pretty picture.

Last December I agreed to pay $147 a month to become an “Avvo Pro” member for DWI/DUI in the Washington, DC area. It is currently the only paid advertising I do. For this monthly fee, I get to have a “Pro” written next to my name on my profile. I liked that the designation suggests that my competitors are mere amateurs.

My profile is featured prominently at the very top of the list with two other D.C.-area lawyers who have paid the same fee. The Avvo salesman promised me all sorts of good things when I signed up for the service. None of these things has come true.

You can work with your Avvo representative, the salesman told me, to improve your rating and your profile. When I first contacted my representative, he had no idea what I was talking about. Now he doesn’t return my calls.

The salesman promised that the Avvo Pro designation would greatly increase phone calls and traffic to my website. I actually get fewer calls now than before I agreed to participate in the service. I used to get one or two calls a month. Now I don’t get any, despite all the activity Avvo claims my designation is generating. And I have never gotten a single client through Avvo, at least that I know of.

The final straw was a sudden and unexplained downgrade of my rating after I had spent a lot of time beefing up my profile. When I called my Avvo representative to complain, he told me that I was being penalized for practicing law in a different jurisdiction than where I had attended law school. Come again? The problem was, Avvo knew about this when I initially “claimed” my profile last summer. And they are just now deciding to do something about it?

One of the reasons I chose to participate in the Pro program was that, unlike many other services that required an annual commitment, Avvo allowed me to go month-to-month.  I am thinking my Avvo representative will be hearing from me today.  I hope he decides to take my call.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Belcher April 3, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I appreciated your blog on Avvo. I replied to a marketing rep a couple of months ago stating that I would probably sign up for “Avvo Pro” in a couple of areas in D.C. and Maryland, but that I first had to finish two appellate briefs in a very limited period of time, and that I did not want her to contact me until I finished these projects. Of course she could not control herself from harassing me in the middle of 14-hour days, so I informed her that she had just talked herself out of a sale.

Still, I wondered if I had acted a bit rashly until seeing your blog. It sounds like you lost points on your rating because you were naughty. The scary thing is that Avvo is likely to become the dominant player in attorney advertising within the next year or two, judging from its recent growth. I myself just starting participating in December and now I feel constrained to “develop my profile” to a reasonable level. I also rather enjoy answering questions, although so far that hasn’t brought me any clients.

I also am now considering several controversial matching services, LegalMatch, LegalFish, and TotalAttorneys. I’ve read all the horror stories, but I’m not yet dissuaded. Any thoughts that you care to share?

jamison April 3, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Maybe someone else will comment, because I really don’t know much about the other services. Like you, I have also read very negative things about them, mostly through the Solosez listserv.

Sasha August 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Another possible matching service is JDFinder.com They are new, but do not require monthly fees or obligations. They email you a potential client in your location and area of practice. You only pay when you choose to contact the person after reviewing the claim. Even if they do not bring in much business, you have not risked anything. I like the no obligation, incentive-based charging for a matching service.

douglas kunkle, esq. April 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

It is is really a phenomenon that the Washington State Bar has not stepped in and let things get this far. I liken it to the massive loan sharking that is going on by bank card companies with so called (by me anyway) state usury carve outs of federal law. Whatever happened to the Suprmecy Clause? The Magna Carta offered you more protection against USURY than our present federal government. Why?

You have to admit Britton is very talented the way he can raise venture capital and he speaks well. And so is King. They should be in the courtroom rather than on the internet bashing other lawyers. The fact that Britton apparently is still borrowing venture captial 4 years into it says to me its almost over for AVVO. I understand he is going to be on the board at Orbitz which is bleeding profusely. After all you borrow a couple million and the return in Washington DC is 3 x $146.00 for DUI advertiseing?

That no one has filed under the Cyber Pyracy Protection for Individuals Act 15 U.S.C. Sec. 8131 is even more amazeing. Hard to think of a more clear case. Just because the persons name appears in the subdomain rather than the main domain is why no-one, to my knowledge has tried that?

So today a pornographer knows more about trade name law than a intellectual lawyer and the man on the street knows more about banking than the banking lawyer.

Same old new world order. God bless Judge Roll.

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