Based on the lawyer outrage about Avvo allowing consumers to comment on a lawyer’s services, you’d think Avvo actually harmed someone looking for a meaningful way to pick a lawyer.
What’s the danger in giving people more information in their attempt to choose a lawyer in a world that’s been dominated by lawyer yellow page ads, sleazy TV advertising, and self-aggrandizing lawyer websites? If people want to use Avvo’s lawyer directory which includes third party commentary on a lawyers services and ratings, they’ll use it. If people do not believe Avvo is worthwhile, they’ll choose not to use it.
I choose not to drive a Yugo. I wouldn’t feel safe in such a small car next to a semi on the freeway. But I don’t go around dissing Yugo telling the manufacturer their car is worthless and telling anyone who will listen to me that Yugo is just out to make money by selling worthless cars to the unknowing populous.
There are too many people in this country who believe people are too stupid to protect themselves. God forbid these poor souls who did not have the opportunity to go to law school decide to pick a lawyer in a method of their own choosing. We lawyers know better and we need to protect you from yourself.
Has any one asked the lawyers criticizing Avvo how much time they even spent on Avvo’s website? Very little of the info provided in the completed lawyer profiles on Avvo has to do with the ratings causing all the lawyer outrage.
Much of the info provided on the Avvo lawyer profiles has to do with clients’ and other lawyers’ comments about their experience with the subject lawyer. That’s good stuff. In a totally opaque industry, where else on the net do I get those types of third party comments about lawyers?
I didn’t like Avvo at first. I found including all lawyers from 11 states in the directory, even many lawyers who would never take a consumer or small business client, a PR stunt. But the more I look at the profiles filling in on the site and the more I hear the shallow opinions as to why we must sink Avvo to the bottom of the sea, the more I like Avvo.
I should have expected Martindale-Hubbell to table forever my proposal to have consumers and small business people comment on lawyers and rate them on certain services related factors, but I never expected people who should have consumers’ interests at heart to fight such a system.
Avvo execs are doing the right thing commenting on the Avvo dissing blog posts. But at the end of the day, Avvo is going to move on knowing if they create a service of value to consumers, their company will thrive. And it’s not going to be lawyers who decide whether Avvo is of value, it will be consumers and small business people.
And a note to the Avvo nay-sayers. It’s a well accepted start up philosophy that you should polarize people. When you create a service some people love, you can expect others to hate you. ‘The goal is to catalyze passion — pro or anti,’ says Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s first evangelist.