AVVO Consumer Legal SiteWord on the street, can’t say whether physical here in Seattle or on the blogosphere, is that Avvo is coming out of stealth mode tomorrow.

Avvo, which raised $13 million in venture capital, says it’s dedicated to helping consumers better navigate the highly confusing legal industry, and that they are building something that no one else has built before.

Headed by CEO Mark Britton, a former Executive Vice President of Expedia, VP of Products and Marketing, Paul Bloom, formerly Senior Director of New Product Marketing at Classmates Online, and VP of Development, Sendi Widjaja, former Senior Director of Development at Expedia, I expect Avvo to deliver a credible solution.

Avvo, while only in stealth mode, has already generated some buzz in the Seattle community, including that from John Cook at the Seattle PI and myself. Now that Avvo is public, it will be an interesting few months to see how lawyers and the public respond to Avvo’s solution.

Updates:

Tim Stanley calls Avvo the Apple Computer of law services (meaning that in a good way) with the great job they did of keeping their solution secret.

Currently neither TechCrunch Attorney Michael Arrington nor ValleyWag has info on the new Avvo site… yet… so confirmation is a leak away. We may even need to wait until the press conference, press release (and launch party) when it comes out tomorrow (?).

Tim’s guess:

…lawyer directory with maps, maybe with consumer legal information to draw people in. Then add a referral program where lawyers can login and get leads. But I really have no idea.

Anonymous lawyer’s guess (well versed on online delivery of legal services) via email this afternoon:

  • They have compiled a list of all the USA attorneys
  • Linked it to a Microsoft Virtual earth map
  • Prepared a triage system to identify many conceivable things one would access a lawyer for
  • Research a pricing matrix for the type of work and present the clients with an understanding of what will be done for what cost
  • Link that to a local firm
  • Have a rating system for firms used (web 2.0 community approach)
  • Have an ability for law firm to add information to their profile page
  • Offer lawyers the ability to add info and communicate with prospective clients
  • Monetize from law firms — eventually once they become the law “search engine” with ads and referrals

Anyone’s guess, though not sure it will be national right away as local testing for key markets has been involved.

Bob Coffield did point out Avvo is short for “Avvocato,” which is lawyer in Italian. Makes sense in that Mark Britton, Avvo’s CEO, hid out in Italy for a year after leaving Expedia and came up with name while on a bike ride near Puglia, Italy

Howard Schultz spent some time in Italy observing their espresso-bar culture before founding Seattle based Starbucks. Think Britton can put a law shop on every corner of the Internet?

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  • I am very curious about this company. However, even though they have a stellar board, there’s no one on it (from what I can tell) who has ever actually worked as a lawyer serving consumer populations. From what I can tell, consumers want answers to legal questions, but they also want to be able to find lawyers for their particular problem easily – and they’re finding them on Google or other search engines, and not through intermediary services. But, we’ll see…

  • Have the same concern Carolyn and raised that with some of the brain trust at Avvo.
    How do know what it feels like to be an abused spouse who’s had their credit cards cut in half and been kicked out of the house when you have never represented such a person as lawyer? As a lawyer, it’s hard to know, but I would think impossible to know if one had only done just large law firm law or studied the law.
    Also, how do you know how to interact online with consumers and small business people asking legal questions if you have never done it. Having been a community leader in the law community at AOL and having answered hundreds, if not thousands, of those people’s questions at AOL, I developed a good feel for it.
    It’s these assets that my team and I had that made me valuable to Martindale-Hubbell when they acquired Prairielaw.com, a virtual law community. (note, I am no longer affiliated with Martindale or LexisNexis)
    But I know AVVO will be more innovative than Martindale and will not sit on their hands in leveraging technology. So as you say, we’ll see…

  • Good Thoughts; I saw your posts after mine and updated accordingly:
    http://www.wiredgc.com/2007/06/05/avvo-thyself/
    You don’t raise $14 million rating lawyers for consumers. I think the beta is really still stealth mode for something much bigger. One thing you can bet is that Martindale and FindLaw are probably looking at Avvo rather intently right now…

  • I have real doubts about this site. The best trial lawyer in this state has a 9. Countless top lawyers have 6s and 7s. I just don’t think its algorithims (or any algorithims for that matter) can really do justice to something as complicated as rating a lawyer. How is this any better than Martindale.
    And lest anyone think this is sour grapes, I feel compelled to note that I got a 10.0 (the highest rating).

  • Vern

    How do you subjectively rate an attorney on a web site? You don’t. Thankfully Steve Berman recognized this and this joke of a venture will soon be torched.

  • Pat

    Steve Berman is now going after this most horrid of ventures. How could they possibly not see that applying such a subjective and coercive system to professionals (especially lawyers of all people) would lead to nothing but difficulty? Easy – ad dollars.
    They are finished.