By Kevin O'Keefe

Angie’s List : Why not lawyer ratings?

Angie Hicks founded Angie’s list, a Web site that collects and shares customer-satisfaction reports on local businesses.

Per an article in this morning’s Seattle Times, the site was born out of necessity.

Angie’s List started in 1995 when Angie Hicks teamed up with friend Bill Oesterle, who had just bought an old home, to figure out how referrals could become a business. Hicks walked door to door, asking neighbors to give referrals to various services, which they used to build their fledgling company.

Soon, the company had a call-in service, added a newsletter and eventually tapped into the Internet.

Members (now 450,000 in 27, soon to be 68 cities) pay a monthly subscription fee of about $6 to access the site. Once signed on, members use the site to review service contractors and post their opinions.

Contractors get a grade of ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ ‘D’ or ‘F,’ as if in school, then a report card is given that ranks the company’s price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism. Members can also write a short synopsis of the service they received.

Lawyers, legal publishers (ala Martindale-Hubbell), national & state bar associations, and state ethics boards get all hung up in the argument that the rating of lawyers is beyond the capability of average folks. We’re told that only lawyers and those with an understanding of the legal industry are equipped to rate lawyers. We’re told non-lawyers cannot rate lawyers because they do not know how skilled a lawyer is and what a good result may be. This is total bunk.

Can’t tell me a consumer or business person isn’t capable of grading lawyers on price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism.

Those holding onto this monopoly on lawyer ratings, or lack thereof, do so for self serving reasons. Doing so further damages the reputation of our legal profession. With social interaction on the Internet changing everything, the phony arguments made to stop true lawyer ratings will not hold up forever.

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Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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