Tuesday Two.Oh! is not meant as an endorsement, but as an exploration of the tools that are out there. Click at your own risk. :)
First of all, let me thank everyone out there- you have been very patient with me during my transition to my new job and my new city. I’m glad to be back, and in honor of my new position in a law library, today I’ll be taking you through a legal research tool.
Today on Tuesday Two.Oh! we’ll be taking a look at a site that will not only allow you to rate your lawyer, but search for one, ask questions (for free) that will be answered by professionals, and read through legal guides authored by site members. Let’s take a look at Avvo:
Find them on Twitter.
From the site: “Avvo rates and profiles every attorney, so that people can choose the right attorney. Lawyer profiles contain helpful information including a lawyer’s experience, areas of practice, disciplinary history, and ratings from clients. Profile data comes from many sources, including state courts and bar associations, lawyer websites, and information provided by lawyers. Information meets guidance in the Avvo Rating—our effort to evaluate a lawyer’s background using a mathematical model that considers the information we know about a lawyer. This information is shown in the lawyer’s profile, including a lawyer’s years in practice, disciplinary history, professional achievements, and industry recognition—all factors that, in our opinion, are relevant to assessing a lawyer’s qualifications.”
Signing up for an account on Avvo will provide you with monthly news updates and is quite easy to do.
However, you should know that you do not have to sign up for an account on Avvo in order to post questions. Answers are given by Lawyers only, and Avvo checks with the Bar in each state to ensure that the Lawyers advising on Avvo are who they say they are. That said, no real indepth advice is given, and from what I’ve seen most answers refer the questioner to lawyers in their specific research field.
You can use the site to search for lawyers in a specific geographical area.
This is where I ran into the first limitation of Avvo: there were not lawyers listed in Oklahoma City. So my search returned like this:
So, I decided to try to search for lawyers in a more populous city, Boston Mass.
What you see above is the search results for lawyers in Boston. Each lawyer in the results list has a detailed profile, and you really will get a good idea as to the caliber of lawyer. I couldn’t snap the whole profile for display here, but here’s a taste of what you will see when you’re looking at a profile on Avvo:
You can quickly see how the lawyer in question has been rated by his clients- in this case the lawyer has been rated very well. Also, reminiscent of LinkedIn, colleagues can leave recommendations for the lawyer, and those will also appear on his page. Also, you can look at their references and their resume.
The profile will also indicated legal guides authored by the lawyer, and answers he has given to other site users. In addition, one of the things that I found very impressive about the profile pages was the list of cases tried by each lawyer, and the outcome.
Avvo does offer more than just provide lawyer searches and profiles. As I’ve alluded to above, there are legal guides available as well as a question-and-answer forum.
The questions-and-answer section is open to all, though only lawyers can answer questions.
There are also legal resources.
In the news:
Regarding the First Amendment:
Regarding the need for foreclosure lawyers during this recession:
Regarding lawyer reactions to public ratings:
In closing Avvo, though controversial, is a real asset to the general public. The law, for novices, if very difficult to traverse and understand, but with the input and guidance of other clients a person can feel confident in their choice of lawyer. One thing I wonder about is if high ratings equal higher fees for the client. From what I have read on the open web, bad ratings have cost lawyers customers.
But, in this day and age a degree does not ensure your popularity, and I personally feel positively about a site that will publicly rate lawyers. In such a complicated world, this kind of site will ensure that the client will be able to trust and have confidence in their choice, and perhaps guard from choosing a lawyer that may not work as hard to win the case. Or, it would alert the potential client to other problems surrounding the lawyer- their profiles do point out instances of “misconduct.”
Overall, I do feel that this site is a positive thing, but I can see how a lawyer might be wary of the site. My advice would be to take control of your profile, and web presence. As with any professional, taking control of your web presence is very important. At very least, be aware of what is being said about you on the web. Pretending the web isn’t there won’t stop other people from using it, and when you preform a public service you have to maintain your public reputation.