Well, my last post about Avvo shows that I had my own misunderstanding. So allow me to correct it. I literally just completed a phone call with someone from Avvo and I am very very disturbed. Here is what happened.
I thought someone claimed a client’s profile
Given how Avvo works and the import of setting up a profile properly to get a good rating, it never once occurred to me that Avvo would give ratings to lawyers without the lawyer claiming the profile himself. I was wrong. So apparently in assuming that people were claiming profiles on behalf of people I was correct in some cases and incorrect in others.
In this case, a client and I were discussing claiming his profile on Avvo. We looked at the site together and were both very surprised to see he had a score. I tried to log in using his email address and couldn’t. Given this client had worked with a consultant in the past we both thought that consultant must have claimed his account. I contacted Conrad over at Avvo (you will recall my conversation with Conrad) and then Conrad had someone else contact me.
This is what I learned
The person who contacted me from Avvo, I’ll call him Z, was a very nice gentlemen who informed me of two things. 1. Avvo will provide a score even if no one claims the profile, if they have enough information to do so. 2. Avvo will take publicly available information and use it. I asked him, well where did you get my client’s picture? He said they probably took it from his website. Took it from his website, I responded in shock. That is a major copyright violation. He disagreed. I told him he had best check with a copyright lawyer. I realize this area, as far as copyright, is a bit uncertain, but given Avvo is a controversial site, anything that could get it in trouble is simply a bad idea.
I am disturbed
The fact that Avvo is providing scores on its website without an attorney claiming the listing is very disturbing to me. This means the attorney never has the opportunity to choose whether he wants a score or not. This also means the attorney, unaware of the fact hat he has a number and information has been filled out about him by Avvo, probably has no clue that he has a score and so no opportunity to increase it.
Z even noted that if an attorney who had a score got in trouble, the score would go down. Well of course it would, because Avvo provided a score and most likely never even let the attorney know he had one. My client had no idea he had a score. He didn’t even know what Avvo was.
As you know, I am already unhappy with the fact that a person cannot unclaim his Avvo account. Now to learn that Avvo is actually providing scores without the attorney taking an affirmative action is something that upsets me even more.
It seems to me, and this is my opinion, that Avvo is bound and determined to force attorneys to interact with the site, regardless of whether they want to. I do not like this at all.
If you have been practicing a long time, you might want to check and see if you already have a score on Avvo. Then you will have to make the decision as to whether you want to claim your listing so you can raise your profile or not.
A Note about Z and Suggestions for Avvo
I do have to apologize to Z, which I already did on the phone. I was so taken aback by what I learned that I got pretty snippy with him. Z was very nice and offered to work with me and my client to help him get more hits with adjustments to his profile. I appreciate this since I know that Avvo is an important site to laypeople. In fact to me Avvo important enough that it doesn’t need to engage in the kind of activity I mention above to get people to use its site.
I strongly urge Avvo to stop giving numbers to people who don’t claim their listings. I also strongly urge Avvo to allow people to unclaim their listings if they so desire.