What is Avvo
What is Avvo Do you use Avvo to promote your law firm? Do you even know what Avvo is or how you were classified as a lawyer? Avvo has quickly grown to become a premier website where consumers look for information about lawyers, but many lawyers do not develop their Avvo profiles properly. Some lawyers distrusted or even hated Avvo so much that they have filed lawsuits against them (all of which have so far been fired), while other lawyers see Avvo as a great source of new business.
What is Avvo
Avvo goes beyond standard lawyer marketing websites in what it offers to users. While some websites allow lawyers to post their names, addresses, phone numbers, and websites (often for a fee), Avvo offers a much greater depth of information. Avvo allows lawyers to post an online resume which provides a place to list academic and professional history, publication credits, awards, and major cases. Lawyers can post links to their own website or to published articles (whether on other websites or on Avvo) and can answer legal questions from potential clients. All of this is available free of charge and enables attorneys to participate even on the tightest of budgets.
Criticism and complaints about Avvo
Why should a lawyer object to receiving free advertising? Ultimately, most of the legal complaints about the platform come from how the website works.
The problems with Avvo profiles
First of all, some lawyers discovered that they already have Avvo profiles that they did not personally create. Avvo creates data that is publicly available in order to create profiles for lawyers, regardless of whether the lawyer actually uses its service. Lawyers can then take ownership of the profile by following a few steps to verify their identity.
However, if an attorney does not claim the profile, incorrect or incomplete information about the attorney may be posted on the Avvo website. In addition, Avvo does not allow lawyers to delete their profiles or "revoke" their once claimed profiles. As a result, some lawyers feel compelled to use Avvo against their will just to prevent false information from being spread about them.
Avvo director Conrad Saam responded to this finding by claiming that lawyers can correct incorrect information without claiming their profile by contacting Avvo customer service. Saam said, "We are not served at all with inaccurate or dated information in any profile. Lawyers can contact us at customercare @ avvo.com and we will correct those inaccuracies without the lawyer having to claim their profile." Obviously, this option is not general known based on the number of attorneys who raised these concerns.
The problems with the Avvo Rating System
A second criticism of Avvo is their attorney rating system. This aspect of Avvo that's what sets it apart from other lawyer marketing websites and is praised by many non-lawyers. While companies like Martindale-Hubbell have used a generalized peer review system for lawyer rating for many years, Avvo goes well beyond the peer review system and only takes into account the opinions of other lawyers as one of the many factors in evaluating a lawyer.
Avvo gives each lawyer a numerical score on a scale from 1 to 10 based on the information in that lawyer profile. Information contained in an attorney's profile, the less likely it is that an attorney has a good ranking, so attorneys who want to get a good Avvo rating have no choice but to spend a lot of time developing their profile dedicate. > Avvo displays t It should only take around 30 minutes to fill out an Avvo profile, but many lawyers have found the process to be more time consuming, especially in terms of what items to consider in order to increase Avvo score . Avvo director Conrad Saam says the ranking should be viewed as a "resume scoring application" and that information that is more relevant to an attorney's professional background carries more weight.
However, if an item (such as a publication or association) is not recognized by the Avvo system, you may not receive any points for it until it is manually reviewed and added to the system. I am familiar with this topic from personal experience as I put multiple posting credits, awards, and memberships on my profile only to find that they had no impact on my ranking.
Complaints about the attorney's rating system grew particularly strong in early 2011 when many attorneys discovered that their Avvo scores had fallen, even though their profiles hadn't changed. Avvo said it changed the algorithm used to calculate lawyer rankings, which has resulted in the number of lawyers being reduced.
Attorney George D. Morgan, at the time this article was written, said he was "on the fence" as to whether to claim his Avvo profile. He wants to correct his Avvo entry which only shows him that he is licensed in New York to show that he is licensed in Arizona, where he actually runs his law firm. However, he says, "Your rating system makes no sense," and he is concerned about the number of good lawyers that he rates mediocre. Therefore Morgan, like many other lawyers, even hesitates to participate in Avvo because he feels the ranking is flawed.
The problem with customer reviews on Avvo
A third criticism of Avvo concerns the way their system allows anyone to write a "customer review" of an attorney. This makes many attorneys extremely uncomfortable as it creates the possibility of information appearing on the profile that is completely beyond the attorney's control; anyone knows that people who are upset or dissatisfied in any way are far more likely to comment on one Make an advocate as someone who is satisfied with the services they are receiving. As a result, many lawyers fear that if the criticism is not fair, a dissatisfied client could leave a negative review that hurts the lawyer's reputation.
What's worse, there is no mechanism to ensure that the person who leaves the comment is actually a customer. A person who was not even represented by the lawyer (like the counterparty in a lawsuit) could give a negative rating. Avvo does not provide a way to remove such reviews if the comment exceeds the approval system. Lawyers therefore fear that a person could harm their otherwise good profile. While Avvo says that customer reviews are not included in a lawyer's professional ranking in their algorithm, the presence of a highly negative customer review can easily outweigh any numerical value.
Avvo director Conrad Saam says Avvo disapproves about 30% of customer reviews posted on the site. Each customer review is manually reviewed to make sure it complies with community guidelines, and they do not approve reviews that are primarily personal attacks or from people who are not customers. While this will likely filter out some of the purely malicious posts, a shrewd advertiser could certainly figure out how to navigate this system.
Praise for Avvo
Despite the criticism of Avvo, they have quickly become one of the top services for finding information on lawyers, and it would not have done so without the involvement of thousands of lawyers across the country. In particular, Avvo was praised for the fact that there is a previously unseen level of transparency in the law firm. For example, if an attorney has been disciplined by the state bar association, that information will be prominently posted on the attorney's profile. Unsurprisingly, this has led to a great deal of annoyance and even some failed lawsuits from previously disciplined attorneys, but most members of the public would find this information relevant in evaluating a lawyer's credentials. In addition, if a lawyer is in the habit of taking money from clients without doing any meaningful work, these clients can now very easily make their complaints public. And when the attorney has answered questions posted on the Avvo site, those answers will be linked to their Avvo profile so people can see the kind of advice normally given by the attorney.
More important to the attorneys who actively use Avvo is the amount of business they can generate for their law firms. A search for the names of many attorneys will bring the attorney's avvo profile to the first page of Google, so the search engine optimization (SEO) score of their system is very high. Some lawyers like to have their profiles on a website where so many consumers are looking for information about lawyers, especially those lawyers who have got a high Avvo ranking. Other lawyers are discovering that answering legal questions that are on the Avvo website is a great way to get new customers to call or email their offices.
Attorney Ronald Burdge said he was familiar with some of the negative comments about Avvo, but had "nothing but good things to say". Burdge says when he does seminars on marketing he tells lawyers, "They have to be with Avvo and they have to be active with Avvo and they have to use Avvo." While recognizing that there is some risk, Burge believes that this is true of everything that is online today. Avvo is too great an opportunity to make people aware of their rights, and in the process of helping people, you can also attract new customers.
My experience and recommendation
My personal experience answering free legal questions about Avvo as an experiment for this article confirmed that this worked for me as a way of generating new business. I was able to acquire several new clients within a few days and also referred a few other cases to other lawyers. After receiving thousands of dollars in just a few days answering just a few questions online on Avvo, one can understand why I would recommend it as a way to find new customers. However, I have spoken to other lawyers who have answered many questions without attracting a single client. Whether or not the Q&A process will work for all lawyers is unclear. What is clear is that Avvo gives lawyers the opportunity to interact with potential clients who have specific legal questions or need specific legal services. This interaction at least creates the opportunity for this question to turn into a paid customer. It didn't work for some lawyers, but many other lawyers are happy with the results they have achieved.
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