What’s your Avvo rating?
If you don’t know, you better find out, says one legal expert.
For the uninitiated, Avvo is an online mash-up of Martindale-Hubbell, Angie’s List, Consumer Reports and the Yellow Pages. It was founded in 2007 by a former attorney for Expedia.com.
On Avvo.com you will find:
- A question-and-answer forum where consumers can get free advice from a panel of lawyers;
- A directory of US-licensed lawyers;
- Profiles and histories from participating lawyers;
- Peer endorsements;
- Disciplinary actions;
- A lawyer rating scale of 1-10, based on a proprietary algorithm;
- Client reviews.
That last feature, which allows anyone to post anonymous and uncorroborated critiques of counsel, has sparked debate – and litigation.
Shortly after the site launched, Avvo was sued by a lawyer who claimed the rating system was libelous and a “scam.” The suit was dismissed on First Amendment grounds. The court held that the reviews were a form of protected speech.
Critics aside, Avvo has become a force. The site claims to have profiles on 95 percent of the attorneys in the country. Every 10 seconds someone logs on for free advice.
Lawyer and author Michael Waddington says get on board – or pay the price.
“The days of sitting back and relying on referrals are gone,” he writes. “Experienced lawyers find themselves constantly fighting and competing with newer, less experienced lawyers for clients. It is a daily struggle to win and keep the upper hand. Avvo offers busy attorneys like you a marketing platform to showcase your expertise, increase your network, and connect with consumers seeking legal services in your area.”
Here are some Avvo tips from Waddington:
- Look up your own Avvo profile. See what it says. Beef it up by adding your resume. Highlight your legal expertise. Take control of your online biography.
- Check your rating. You might consider yourself a superb attorney, but Avvo may say otherwise. “A lot of attorneys tell me that they think the Avvo rating system is bogus,” writes Waddington. “These lawyers don’t get it. It does not matter if you agree with the rating or not. If you are a lawyer, then you have an Avvo rating. As such, you should try to improve it because it may be costing you clients.”
- Close the age gap. Waddington says private practice lawyers 40 and older are “getting crushed by younger, tech savvy attorneys” who know how to get maximum bang from sites like Avvo.
- Accept reality. Type in “lawyer reviews” in Google, and the first site that comes up is Avvo.com. Welcome to the new world of virtual word-of-mouth.
- Take off your lawyer hat. When evaluating Avvo and similar services, think like a client. Like it or not, many consumers consider Avvo as an authority website. They rely on it when hiring and recommending a lawyer.
- Don’t rely exclusively on your website. Consumers view professional websites with skepticism. They see them as Internet billboards not to be fully trusted. Third-party sites like Avvo, on the other hand, are viewed (rightly or wrongly) as independent, authoritative and reliable.
- Develop a brand. All of your marketing efforts – from letterhead stationery to Avvo profiles – should be consistent. Each piece should reinforce the other. The goal is to let potential clients know who you are and what you can do for them.
And in case you were wondering, Avvo is derived from “avvocato,” the Italian word for lawyer.
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.
For more information:
- Avvo tips from Michael Waddington http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=5811526618568482819&gid=4999690&trk=eml-anet_dig-b_nd-pst_ttle-cn&fromEmail=&ut=3FQyRvzpv1q601
- Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avvo
- Avvo http://www.avvo.com/