U.S. Capitol building

Disenchanted with Avvo

Jamison KoehlerLaw Marketing/Networking

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.