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.