I have to respect a company that comes publicly looking for people to talk to about any concerns. Avvo did just that. Conrad Saam, who is Director of Marketing, wrote a comment here on my blog offering to speak with me. After a few stops and starts (on my part, not Conrad’s) we finally found a few moments to speak today.
The world is a small place!
When I first mentioned on Facebook that I would be speaking to Conrad a friend from high school asked if I knew that Conrad had gone to the same school as we. You have to understand how strange this is. I went to a high school near Princeton New Jersey. My class had about 85 people and my whole school had about 700. I moved away when I was in 9th grade. Sure enough it was true. Conrad went to the same school, he graduated 2 years after I would have. We remembered some of the same people. One person we both remembered specifically because he played soccer (I remembered someone had stomped on his leg, breaking it badly, once I mentioned it Conrad remembered too.) We also remembered him because the same person played trumpet while I played cornet. You out there Leroy?
We discussed the vast growth Avvo has experienced over the past 5 years, how much it is being used by laypeople to find lawyers (and doctors) and how it really has become crucial to claim your profile if at all possible.
I asked why Avvo doesn’t allow people to disclaim their profiles. Conrad gave me some explanations, but in the end I am not sure I agreed with them. I am not going to post his explanations here because I’m also not sure I would say it correctly. I do however welcome a guest post from Conrad or Avvo on the subject here (or in the comments.)
I really think if you claim your profile and decide you can’t keep it up, or are just unhappy with it, you should be able to unclaim it. If you get in trouble after you have claimed your profile, even if you unclaim it you would still be listed as someone who got in trouble. So we have to agree to disagree here. I don’t see changing my mind and I don’t see Avvo changing its policy.
We also talked about the realities of search engine optimization. I mentioned my blog post on organic versus inorganic SEO and Conrad seemed to be right with me.
Tidbits on my score
I mentioned to Conrad that my score seemed to have jumped suddenly which surprised me. I mused whether it had something to do with an award I had won. He said that was probably the case. He explained that if it was something they didn’t recognize it they would have their folks research it and then assess its value. The award actually is a pretty prestigious one (I won it for helping PBI create its Simulcast network) and so it makes sense it would be accorded a lot of points.
What about the business person/lawyer?
I expressed concern to Conrad about the lawyer who is more a business person than a lawyer. We frequently complain that a lot of lawyers don’t know how to run a business, but a lot of successful smaller firms have a lawyer who is really focused on the business of law as opposed to the practice. Those lawyers simply won’t have a good profile on Avvo. Conrad acknowledged this concern but also noted that since those attorneys weren’t the ones who were going to be hired to handle the cases, it would be best to focus on listings of the attorneys who will. Those attorneys will have the scores you want to encourage people to hire them.
Avvo is here to stay
Of late, I have been reading a lot of posts about Avvo, positive and negative, but here’s the reality. Avvo is popular, it is high up in search engine results and people are using it to find lawyers. Your best bet, if you have the resume to back it up, is to claim your profile and complete it.
Conrad confirmed for me, for the most part Avvo can only base your score upon your years of experience and whether you have ever gotten in trouble. The rest is going to be filled in by you. So if you want a good score, be sure to fill your profile up with everything you have done, this in turn will help you to increase your score.
Also, don’t forget about getting endorsements from lawyers. Don’t think you will get from 6 to 10 with a lot of endorsements though.
I thank Conrad for taking the time to talk with me. I already actually had a pretty good impression of Avvo. I don’t share a lot of the concerns that others share and our conversation was both enjoyable and useful. And again, I would more than welcome a guest post from Avvo on my blog.