Legal Ratings And Search Site Avvo Launches

More than a year in development, legal search and ratings site Avvo officially launched yesterday. The site allows users to search by geography and practice area or by lawyer name. It combines data from public records and (eventually) clients, community members and legal peers to offer a composite score for every attorney practicing in the U.S.. Like real estate site Zillow, which shares Benchmark Capital as a funder, Avvo builds lots of functionality (and eventually community) around a core set of data.

The founders recognize a hole in the market and want to provide a user-friendly way to find attorneys or do research on attorneys recommended by others. They also want to turn Avvo in to an effective marketing vehicle for attorneys themselves.

As word of Avvo gets out in the legal community, I would imagine almost every attorney in America will probably conduct a vanity search and check their score. Many will be surprised to find that their scores are seemingly mediocre. For example, I conducted four searches on lawyers I worked with or know and none of them rose above a “7″ (out of 10 possible). These are all competent and successful lawyers in the San Francisco Bay Area — lawyers I would recommend. It’s not exactly clear why their scores were less than 7, except for missing potentially positive information.

Like LinkedIn, there will be rewards and, theoretically, an improvement in ratings if lawyers participate by claiming their profiles and soliciting recommendations from peers. The key to success here in the near term is building consumer trust in the ratings system. Avvo benefits in their regard from the general absence of any other direct competitors offering a similar, user-friendly ratings scheme (lawyers.com doesn’t have anything comparable for example).

Right now, however, the ratings scheme is probably not transparent enough (what’s the difference between a 6 and a 7, for example?). Accordingly, the site is currently most valuable as a way of checking (and potentially eliminating) attorneys recommended by others. As more content is collected and there’s more participation from lawyers and clients it will become a potentially valuable way to find lawyers on its own.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Search Engines: Legal Search Engines

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://www.resourceshelf.com gary price

    Thanks for the intro and overview Greg!

    A related-database (a variation on a theme?) that comes to mind for “attorney research” comes from Thomson/Findlaw and is called the Thomson Legal Record

    Thomson Legal Record is a unique research tool, combining an attorney’s litigation history on Westlaw with the attorney’s profile on FindLaw…he profile contains biographical information, background on litigation experience and areas of practice, links to the attorney’s Web site and published works, and much more.

    What’s also useful is that now, the primary documents posted in the FindLaw News Document Archive often contain direct links to profile pages for the attorney’s/firms involved.

    Example.

  • queen_of_hearts

    I like the concept but I am a little uncertain as to how the client rating aspect will work. Too much margin for manipulation?

  • http://www.lawguru.com/ LawGuru

    With respect to the Avvo ratings scheme is not being transparent enough, LawGuru allows you to make your own determination regarding whether or not an attorney is right for you based on the quality of their replies to legal questions.

  • Henry

    It seems Avvo wants to rate every Attorney, but perhaps not every attorney wants to be rated. They really need to rethink their rating plan, as LawSuits seems to be headed their way. LawGuru.com is miles ahead by having a strong user base ready to ask questions and active attorneys ready to answer.

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