Another day, and another chance for lawyer-bloggers Robert Ambrogi, Carolyn Elefant, or Craig Williams, to wail on legal startup Avvo in shifts; I guess the 24-hour anti-Avvo campaign is just too much for one person. Today was Bob’s turn and he didn’t even bother to look objective; he just dove in with these carefully chosen words: “Trust us, Avvo’s ratings are a crock.” Well said sir. But there was so much more. He went on to tell us that Avvo had declined a chance to participate in his podcast about its merit. Content to smirk in a self-satisfied manner up until that point, I felt compelled after reading the piece to leave the following comment
Avvo did not send people to your podcast panel? Maybe you called the wrong number and they didn’t know it was you? I mean, why would they not defend themselves on your show? Now, I’m no Robert Ambrogi but you’re saying that despite the fact that
- it made a huge bet on the need for a more efficient legal market
- its executives previously took on real estate and travel agents
- it could buy all the PR in the world to drown out your complaints
Avvo was too intimidated to send anyone to your podcast? Okay …
Coincidentally, today was also the day TechnoLawyer distributed a piece I wrote some time ago — well before I knew who Avvo was: talk about your coincidences, this turned out to be a great reminder that my position on this point is nothing new. Of course I knew that, but just in case I was being a reactionary I can look back on a history of defending the idea of a free market for legal services. With respect to the TechnoLawyer piece, it happened this way — In response to these comments written by me and published by TechnoLawyer originally
Let’s use technology to create a friction-free legal marketplace that will blow away the establishment that wants to keep law as its little secret instead of society’s tool for better living …
another member suggested that I had eaten some “bad pizza,” was having a “Jerry Maguire moment,” and that overall lawyers required conflict to have a job. In response I described a scenario that seems to recall what is happening now, and what I believe Avvo could become, namely the first step in the direction of a friction-free legal marketplace (or as close as we’ll come for some time). As I said at the time
Your response is typical of how people see Lawyers; as predators. I was talking about using technology to speed up the resolution of conflicts and accelerate communication between market participants (lawyers, clients, judges) and the fact is that an efficient market brings prosperity to everyone and shouldn’t be feared or shunned … a rising tide lifts all boats … ofcourse if some ride higher than others in the current market because they can get away with underserving and overcharging clients, they will most definitely reject efficiency, transparency, and speed, because it will cause them to lose their monopoly and the luxury of not having to measure up to the market … these lawyers need to be shown the virtual door — their gain is our pain. We’re better off without them, and eventually everyone wins in an efficient market because such conditions create more business, simpler access, and more money to go around.
Okay, so this particular rant reflects a fanciful, even optimistic, prediction of the future. And I’m not putting this responsibility on anyone, much less on one company. And of course Avvo won’t succeed in being all things to all lawyers. But to this lawyer the company may represent the bridge to a better way of practicing law. And with all due respect to Robert Ambrogi, wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace?