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So unless you’ve been living under a rock or on some desert isle where the wifi is really weak, you’ve probably seen TV ads for AVVO the online attorney directory. Funny commercials, I must admit. I like the one where the guy is getting his groove on with a dominatrix and his wife walks in whilst she’s doing him with a feather. “I definitely need AVVO…” the surprised wife says (so she can call a divorce attorney, get it?). Same commercial also has a guy whose lawn mower tosses a blade (which then sticks in a wall or something). Uh oh. Better see AVVO. (Glad they spared us all the blood and gore of the accident that could have happened.) Haha. Funny commercials for sure, but they don’t really tell you about AVVO itself.

 

A phone book of lawyers

So: what is AVVO really and why might you want to use it (or not)? Here’s what I think: AVVO is pretty much a phone book of lawyers. That’s about it. Sure you can search by attorney practice area, but that’s not really much better than just doing a raw Google search for say “divorce attorney” (etc) is it? And while it may seem cool that AVVO includes attorney ratings and reviews, I’d say you better take a close look at that before you get all gushy. Lots of these attorneys “ratings” and “reviews” are done by their own friends and attorneys (that they see on a regular basis perhaps). How can that be useful? Who is gonna dis the guy he’s got to look at every day in court? Rather than an honest “let’s be frank about attorney so and so”, what I see is a national network of attorneys who offer each other good ratings in exchange for a good rating in return (that they get to boast about in their profile section), regardless of what each lawyer really feels about the other. Sorry man, but that just smells bad, and I don’t see that it’s particularly good for the folks who might like to find their attorney via AVVO.

 

It’s an SEO play that favors AVVO over everyone else, including the attorneys themselves

How can you rely on that info? How can you base any real decision on some glad-handling quid pro quo? Trust me, you can’t. About the only real utility I see in that whole method is that AVVO gets to boost its SEO (search engine optimization) by fostering this environment where attorneys create content and backlinks for AVVO FOR FREE. But that’s not anything that makes the site more useful to legal services consumers, it just makes it more profitable for the owners and founders of AVVO! I have the same sort of criticism about the way they get lawyers to “answer questions” on the site. BOOM! Instant blog content, great to jack up AVVO’s SEO and they don’t pay a dime for it. Nope. The lawyers do it of their own volition so they can have a better “rank” on AVVO. It’s part of their ranking algorithm.  

 

Same with the whole idea of writing up attorney “profiles” and posting them on the site and then asking attorneys to “claim them”, fill in the gaps and embellishments, and add a badge linking back to AVVO. Free content and backlinks for AVVO. Boosts page rank, for them. So too am I critical of the $39.00 “get your question answered right now” pitch. While it might be convenient to pay up and have “instant access to a lawyer”, why would anyone pay $39.00 (or anything at all for that matter) if there were some other means of access which didn’t cost anything at all? And just how much of this goes to the lawyer anyway?

 

In the end I see AVVO as being just another mega-site that has buffaloed its way onto the scene and has made lawyers feel somehow that they “have to be a part of it” (in the same kind of way that credit rating companies like experian and equifax and trans union have made every person in the States worried about some damn number they make up).

 

Not a fan

So, AVVO? Not a fan. In fact, so much NOT a fan, that we built BernieSez.com. Post your case on BernieSez and lawyers call you, not the other way around! Want to ask a question and get a real answer without paying $39.00? Great! That’s what we want! The lawyer who just called you didn’t answer like you want? No sweat! Wait for the next guy to call. And if you end up hiring someone, you will have saved time, probably money, and you will not have had to spin your wheels reading empty praises from one attorney about another.

 

The counter-culture to AVVO

What a novel idea! A consumer-oriented website that actually wants folks who need lawyers to have real access to real lawyers who give real valuable information. Hey call us the counter-culture to AVVO’s mainstream model. Coincidentally as you may have heard, there’s another guy named Bernie who has the same kind of philosophies about big business. Sanders is it….?

 

Oh, and by the way, we are not alone in not really liking AVVO’s practices.  Take a few minutes to read the following article, which disses AVVO and suggests to lawyers to not use the AVVO backlink badge.  Read on, click the button below.