Avvo Launches: Go Get ‘Em Guys

Avvo

Avvo aims to do for lawyers what Expedia and Zillow did for the travel and real estate industries … but will the strategy work among Lawyers?

As announced by legal blogger Kevin O’Keefe in this piece and on the official Avvo Blog by CEO Mark Britton, with whom we spoke a month ago, after months of anticipation and a reported $13,000,000 in funding, Avvo has launched. You’ll remember Avvo as the stealth startup that promised to shake up the legal status quo … but didn’t say how. After that interview I made some educated guesses about what Avvo might have in store based on the fact that Mark Britton was instrumental in establishing Expedia while director Richard Barton was part of both Expedia and Zillow. In fact, Avvo does aim to do for lawyers what Expedia and Zillow did for the travel and real estate industries, respectively, and the legal bloggers are already whining. Prime examples of such protests can be found here and here from Law.com ‘s own star bloggers Carolyn Elefant and Robert Ambrogi (decrying the fact that their ratings fail to reflect their … um, elevated status). As I said in response to Ms. Elefant’s post and the comments that fell into line dutifully afterwards – we Lawyers have had this coming for a long time:

Do you dislike the idea of being rated by the people who hire you? Don’t you think people were already doing that? Do you feel threatened by the prospect of public scrutiny? Don’t you think that you were being talked about anyway? How did you choose your mechanic? What about your builder? Are we so different that we cannot stand up to some good old fashioned competition?

As an MBA turned entrepreneur turned Lawyer, I am stunned. I spent years learning about how competition shaped our lives, weeding out inefficient competitors, rewarding service and quality with success, and raising everyone’s standard of living. Then I became a Lawyer and found out that we are so threatened by the prospect of competition that we build walls to keep others off our turf. We had this coming and you know it.

OPEC could take lessens from us: what we belong to is a cartel, not a profession. Look at how we are opaque to public scrutiny, impenetrable to questions and, for good measure, hostile to each other. Reminds me of this story:

The Devil took a Lawyer to Hell and showed him a pit where bad Doctors were kept, with a steel grate to keep them in. Same with CPA’s. Same with the Priests and so on. Then the Devil showed the Lawyer a pit without bars; the Lawyer peered down into the pit and asked why there was no steel grate over the pit. Then Devil just smiled and said ‘Those are Lawyers. If one looks like he might reach the top the others pull him back down.’

As for me, I say ‘go get ’em Avvo.’ It’s about time someone shed some light on this legal racket. Let’s get some real competition in here and restore our collective pride in serving the public, not just ourselves.

document automation :: process consulting :: e-discovery consulting

6 responses to “Avvo Launches: Go Get ‘Em Guys

  1. I too am complaining, but since I got a 10.0 (the highest), you cannot attribute it to my ranking. My complaint is that so many of the rankings are absurd. There are many great lawyers out there with 6.5s and many mediocre lawyers with 8.0s. The problem is that so much of the rankings is based on publications and speaking and that really is no way to rank a lawyer. Isn’t Martindale Hubbell’s method at least as good?

  2. I did not decry my rating in Avvo. I have no rating in Avvo as of yet, since it has not reached my state of Massachusetts. You make my post sound like sour grapes, when my grapes have yet to ripen.
    — Bob Ambrogi, LawSites blog

  3. I left a comment at law.com. But if you read my post, I say that my ranking is on par with David Boies. I have no complaints about that. But why should my ranking be the same as that of a colleague of mine who is perpetually late for court, regularly files documents late and has had several complaints filed against him by clients?

    I also said this in my post:

    I see great value to aggregating attorney listings and making them available to the public. The more information that can be provided, the better. But once the information is out there and consumers have guidelines on what to look for, let them make the hiring decision themselves, free of a numerical ranking system, which, at least right now, doesn’t work very well.

    My sole objection is a numerical ranking system which is held out as having “objective value.” In fact, as people are already showing, the numbers can be “gamed.” Also, from what I can tell so far, the numbers are based in part on an attorneys’ years in practice. Well, if you look at bar statistics, lawyers with 8-15 years of practice are the most likely to commit malpractice or have grievances filed against them, far more than an attorney 1-7 years out.

    Also, I will add that many of the online hotel rankings are transparent. Hotels are rated 1-5 based on rankings for cleanliness, staff responsiveness, amenities, etc…Avvo has not stated how its rankings are assigned, which makes them suspect, not just for lawyers but for consumers.

  4. Response to ChinaLawBlog:

    The point of systems like Avvo, as with Digg, Zillow, LinkedIn, etc. is collaborative filtering.

    Not a perfect system. Actually it is often downright dumb … at first. But if such a system is consistent and can measure what people want to know (as opposed to what the lawyer wants them to know) then it has successfully brought transparency to an opaque market.

    Is Martindale-Hubbel’s method just as good? Maybe. I don’t seem to recall this kind of outcry when that system was to be employed. Wonder why …?

  5. Pingback: Avvo update: Avvo Blog « Mullen on Law 2.0

  6. Response to Bob Ambrogi and Carolyn Elefant:

    As star bloggers on American Lawyer Media you are influential. By disemboweling Avvo you signaled that want the site’s rating concept, and Avvo itself, to fail. What is the implication? Only Martindale-Hubbel or Findlaw can determine what attorneys are worth hiring? Are they so much more ‘objective?’

    Then there was the section of Robert Ambrogi’s post that read, “the qualities that make a great lawyer are intangible.” What was your point there: that lawyering is such a mystery that we shouldn’t even try to figure it out? Wow. We really do see things differently.

    Here’s the thing: I like a good poem as much as the next guy, but if the architect that designed my house was more a poet than a mathematician I’m in big trouble. The time to find that out would be before the house was built, not afterwards.

    Why not let these numerical rankings speak for themselves and let the market sort out the results? It’s worked before … then again, what do I know? You guys are the star bloggers.

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