Avvo

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Avvo.com is an online legal services marketplace. Avvo offers on-demand, affordable legal advice through Avvo Advisor,[1] which delivers an Avvo-rated, experienced lawyer for 15 minutes over the phone, available online or via a free app for iOS devices. In Avvo’s Q&A forum, consumers can get their legal questions answered for free by more than 200,000 participating lawyers or search more than 6.7 million previously asked questions and attorney provided answers.[2] Avvo’s lawyer directory provides Avvo-rated profiles, client reviews, and peer endorsements for 97 percent of all lawyers in the United States. Avvo's attorney directory may also include client reviews, disciplinary actions, and peer endorsements. The website also includes lawyer-submitted legal guides.

Launched in 2007, Avvo has developed a rating scale for lawyers based upon a proprietary algorithm. The ratings system was widely criticized for inaccuracy and inconsistency.[3] A lawsuit filed against the company alleged it was a "scam" and libelous. The suit was dismissed on the basis that the ratings were an opinion protected by the First Amendment right of free speech.[4]

Avvo
Avvo Logo
Founded 2006
Headquarters Seattle, United States
Founder(s) Mark Britton
Sendi Widjaja
Industry Internet
Slogan(s) Legal. Easier.
Website http://www.avvo.com
Type of site Legal Services

History[edit]

Avvo was founded in Seattle, Washington in 2007 by Mark Britton, a former legal counsel for Expedia.com. Britton said he developed the idea while vacationing in Italy and was still receiving inquires from friends and colleagues seeking legal advice. Rich Barton, the founder of the real-estate database Zillow.com, was a key advisor during the initial ideation stages and still serves on the board of directors. Avvo was derived from “avvocato”, the Italian word for lawyer.[5]

The company was initially financed with venture capital of $13 million from Benchmark Capital and Ignition Partners.[5] Subsequently, Avvo raised $37.5 million in financing in 2014, which brings the company's total financing to $60.5 million.[6]

Business model[edit]

Avvo generates revenue by selling advertising and other services primarily to lawyers.[2] Avvo operates as a scraper site to generate its lawyer listing pages causing the District of Columbia Bar Association to specifically object to its business practices.[7] An additional source of revenue for Avvo is through a $49.95/mo subscription service called "Avvo Pro" which allows lawyers to remove advertisements from their profile, including advertisements by competing lawyers which may appear on non "Avvo Pro" lawyer profiles.[8]

Lawyer directory[edit]

According to the website, the directory provides comprehensive profiles, client reviews, peer endorsements, and its own proprietary rating for more than 97% of all licensed attorneys in the United States.[9] Avvo lawyer profiles are aggregated from public records provided by state bars and additional attorney licensing entities. Avvo will not delete any lawyer's profile,[10] and has been criticized for including profiles on deceased lawyers.[11][12]

As of 2010, Avvo's directory includes ratings of lawyers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.[13]

Browne v. Avvo[edit]

A lawsuit was filed on June 14, 2007, nine days after Avvo's launch, by Seattle attorneys, John Henry Browne and Alan Wenokur. The suit alleged that Avvo's rating system made false claims of being factual and was therefore deceptive, libelous and violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act.[14] United States District Court Judge Robert Lasnik ruled that the rating system was only an opinion thus protected by the First Amendment right of free speech.[15] The judge wrote, "Neither the nature of the information provided nor the language used on the Web site would lead a reasonable person to believe that the ratings are a statement of actual fact."[15]

After the ruling, a Wall Street Journal editorial endorsed the website for providing "at least some measure of transparency" of the legal profession.[16]

The District of Columbia Bar Association released its position about Avvo:

The Bar has not entered into any agreement with Avvo; instead, Avvo has obtained Bar member information directly from the Bar’s Web site, in violation of our restrictions on use, and used that information for its own commercial purposes. The Bar has asked Avvo to remove all improperly acquired D.C. Bar member information from its Web site, cease all attempts to acquire such information from the Bar’s Web site, and cease using improperly acquired information for any commercial purpose.[7]

Doctor directory[edit]

The doctor directory launched on November 1, 2010.[17] Avvo's health business was sold to HealthTap on November 29, 2012.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Avvo Advisor Honored by American Bar Association For Innovative Delivery of Legal Services". The Business Journals. February 5, 2015. 
  2. ^ Cook, John (September 20, 2011) http://www.geekwire.com/2011/quora-avvo-rebrands-qa-site
  3. ^ Cook, John (June 5, 2007). "Online rating system Avvo puts attorneys in the hot seat". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  4. ^ Cook, John (June 12, 2007). "Respected lawyer wants rating site Avvo closed". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  5. ^ a b Duryee, Tricia (5 June 2007). "Hiring a lawyer? Avvo can help you". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  6. ^ Cook, John (4 May 2014). "Legal marketplace Avvo accelerates with $37.5M, eyes international expansion and new products". GeekWire. 
  7. ^ a b "Important Notice to the Membership About Avvo". District of Columbia Bar Association. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ See Avvo Pro site page at: http://www.avvo.com/avvo-pro.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Robben, Janine (August 2012). "Super Size Me: Lawyers in the Age of Acknowledgement". Oregon State Bar Bulletin. We create a profile if the state bar contains information." ... "We’ll have profiles of dead lawyers, like Abraham Lincoln. 
  11. ^ Liptak, Adam (July 2, 2007). "On Second Thought, Let’s Just Rate All the Lawyers". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  12. ^ McCullagh, Declan (June 5, 2007). "Lawyer ratings site not without objections". CNET News. Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  13. ^ Zahorsky, Rachel (April 14, 2010). "Avvo Grows, Ranks Lawyers From All 50 States". ABA Journal. 
  14. ^ Peter Geier (2007-06-18). "Avvo Sued Over Its Lawyer Rankings". The National Law Journal. Retrieved 2008-04-23. 
  15. ^ a b Mike Carter (December 19, 2007). "Lawyers' suit over site's legal ratings dismissed". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-04-23. 
  16. ^ "Wall Street Journal endorses lawyers rating site". The Wall Street Journal. December 24, 2007. 
  17. ^ Dudley, Brier (November 1, 2010). "Avvo to expand to include ranking physicians". The Seattle Times. 

External links[edit]