2/21/11

AVVO - Reviews to Consider B4 You Claim Your Profile

AVVO.COM is a lawyer rating site - maybe you've seen it.  However, before you include your name - or that of your law firm - on Avvo, consider the following 5 (+1) issues:

1.  Avvo is on the Ripoff Report

2.  Last year, New York HR attorney Charles Krugel gave an in-depth review of the site - it's worth your time to read.

3.  Read the Wikipedia article (I know, I know) and find, among other things, info regarding a lawsuit filed against the service (which reviews both doctors and lawyers) where the plaintiffs alleged that Avvo.com is a sham since its review system isn't scientfically sound -- and where the case was dismissed not because of the allegation that the ratings are bogus, but on 1st Amendment Free Speech grounds.  The Judge ruled that assuming arguendo that they are bogus, they are constitutionally protected nevertheless.  (Justia has Browne et al v. Avvo here, pleadings and opinion, if you're interested.)  Since then, fyi, there's been another suit filed (in 2010, out of Florida - read the pleading here).

4.  There's a search engine optimization strategy here that lawyers (and doctors) don't recognize is part of the Avvo.com agenda - details explained here by Barry Hurd, and you need to read his comments, too. 

5.  Debra Bruce of Lawyer-Coach, Inc. provides a good summary of the Avvo controversy here, in a pdf available online from the State Bar of Texas. 

Here's my suggestion -- before you jump into Avvo, go read the reviews of lawyers and law firms in your community.  You may find some shocking results ... as Ms. Bruce points out.  Consider the raison d'etre of this site: to build ranking on the web.  Avvo.com is focused upon building its own site authority on the web, and lawyers who sign up benefit from dovetailing with them.  Read Hurd's discussion of this for details.

6. And, one big reminder:  it's important to check with your State Bar to insure that any Avvo listing is okay with them. 

It may not be -- remember, there are testimonials on the site and that's a big no-no in many states (at least for lawyers).   Earlier this month, the Broward County Bar Association discussed this in their latest meeting ("AVVO Testimonials on Florida Attorney Profiles") and the latest from Florida is that lawyers there can "claim" their Avvo profile, but they cannot solicit testimonials for the site - tho Florida allows these testimonials to appear. 

And nope, I don't know the answer to the question "how can the Florida Bar enforce this distinction?"  Your guess is as good as mine on that one.
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