Are you a member of the public who is wondering if the Avvo lawyer service is legit? Or maybe you are an attorney who is thinking about claiming your profile on Avvo?
We have nothing to do with the lawyer rating service. However, we wanted to start doing legal company investigations. Maybe we will call it “Clearway investigates.” We recently did a review of the website Lawyerratingz.
We went on Reddit and Facebook groups to find out what questions had about Avvo. It seems that most of the confusion was around Avvo questions and the ratings.
So we have spent days reading all the FAQ questions, looking at company reports, and listening to investor updates that we found.
Fun fact before we get started, Avvo is short for “avvocato” which means “lawyer” in Italian.
Here we go!
You can see a tour of the Avvo office in the video below.
What Is Avvo?
For those that don’t know, Avvo is a website where people can ask questions for free, and attorneys answer them.
There are also Avvo scores and a rating system from the public. The Avvo score is something that a lawyer earns by answering questions for free, and by filling out their profile.
The Avvo reviews come from the public, in the form of 1-5 star reviews.
The website is only in the United States. Because of this, we build our own rating service for lawyers in Canada and China.
The website is massive, with a domain authority score of 90. This basically means that whatever Avvo posts on the internet are going to appear near the top on Bing and Google.
The website is controversial, and during its early days led to a number of lawsuits. Avvo was sued by lawyers in Florida and Seattle soon after its launch. Avvo won both of the lawsuits.
The lawyers wanted their information taken off the internet, and Avvo said no. We have similar complaints from some lawyers. Therefore, we created our own profile removal page.
One of the lawyers (Larry Joe Davis Jr.) who filed a lawsuit had to pay Avvo $60,000. Ouch. You can see the lawyer’s profile below.
It’s weird that the lawyer didn’t just put in the work to get a better Avvo rating. They could have sent the profile to past happy clients. Much easier than spending years in litigation.
I also noticed that they had been disciplined by a state licensing authority. They also have an Avvo rating that shows “concern.”
They probably wanted the profile taken down for that reason.
John Henry Browne, a Seattle attorney, also sued Avvo and lost.
Aaron H. Darsky also sued Avvo and lost. This lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California.
Moria Bernstein was another lawyer who filed an Action and lost. So many of them!
The company also raised around $10M during that time, and went on to sell for just south of a billion dollars! Talk about a success story.
The Companies Story
Avvo is a marketplace that puts people who need a lawyer with a law firm. The idea was centred around the fact that:
There are people who need legal help.
There are attorneys who want more clients.
The company was doing something different, and they knew that some law firms would fight them in the early stages.
But the company wanted to push for change. Some lawyers said that Avvo was hurting consumers. Avvo said they were helping consumers find law firms for free.
A judge agreed with Avvo. The funny thing is that the media, including the Wall Street Journey, covered the lawsuit and Avvo.
The lawyers who sued the company made them famous.
Avvo then focused on creating user-generated content, and attorney ratings. It focuses on community. The idea was to have consumers come in and add content.
Lawyers then come in and add their own content. An example of this is the Q+A form. When someone asks a legal question on Avvo, they often have an answer within 60 minutes.
Where Is The Company Going?
Avvo CEO Mark Britton said in a 2017 interview that he was disappointed in how slow the legal community has adapted to the internet.
Of course, little did he know that COVID-19 was coming soon. The virus quickly forced all lawyers to use the internet. But that’s for another article.
The founder said Avvo is the largest legal platform in the world. There are 300,000 lawyers who actively use the platform. Many more have profiles but don’t use them.
They get over 100M visits to the website each year.
Even then, the founder found out that the judges have never heard of Avvo. Many other legal professionals hadn’t heard of Avvo.
Legal Zoom did a really good job of letting people know about them and went on to be worth $7B in the public market.
What Are Avvo Questions?
Avvo questions appear to have replaced the lawyer rating service as its most popular service. To be honest, I think its Q+A service isn’t as good as it could be.
It’s likely that it’s so popular because it’s one of the only to exist on the internet.
Below is what it looks like.
Once you get to this form, things become easy to use. But it took me longer than it should have to find the form. Or maybe I was just being dumb. Who knows?
Either way, a good mobile experience should be able to be used by someone who is dumb. There was so much information in the Q+A section of the website I found myself overwhelmed.
Of course, the Q+A has led to a massive amount of website traffic for Avvo. Below is what an attorney answering a question looks like.
You will note that the attorney has a high Avvo score. This is most likely because they answer a lot of questions.
The Avvo Rating for Dawn Saenz is 9, and it looks like their lawyer rating is around 4.5 stars. It’s also possible that they have a paid account. This is because their phone number is showing. If I am wrong, please reach out to us.
They have been contributing content for over six years!
How Do The Avvo Ratings Work?
It appears that the ratings are the second most popular service that Avvo offers, right after the Q+A service.
There is the Avvo score and the public reviews. The score is mainly based on how filled out the lawyer’s profile is. Other things, like participating in the community, also seem to affect the score.
The rating is generated by a secret algorithm. Lawyers can’t pay the company to improve the score.
It goes from 1-to 10.
The company seems to be willing to remove the score, but not ratings or profiles.
Here is the companies email support information if you need it: email@example.com
Public Generated Reviews
Some attorneys receive a review from the public, from 1-5 stars. This section is for them. The company says that they check every review before it goes live.
It would be interesting to find out if that is true or not. We know that companies like Glassdoors and Google Reviews do not check reviews before they go live.
Instead, they allow people to “flag” reviews for violating their terms of service. Then their support team checks it out and makes a decision if it should be removed or not.
There are two things you can do if Avvo won’t take down a review about you.
- You can respond to it. Tell your side of the story, and don’t be shy.
- You can ask Avvo to do a formal review. But this will lead to the reviewer’s new comments being added to the profile. So be careful.
Below is what an Avvo review looks like.
Please note that Avvo doesn’t verify reviews. So it’s possible that a law firm’s marketing team might be responsible for some of the good reviews.
But also know that a law firm’s competitor might be responsible for a few of the bad reviews.
Just be careful.
How does Avvo make money?
The first step for the company appears to be to get attorneys to claim their free profile. That is a simple ask, as it doesn’t cost any money.
Once the company has captured the attorney’s email and phone number, they have a sales team contact them to sell them.
Something that really helped the company take off was lawyers promoting their 5-star rating. Law firms would add their Avvo score to their website, and then link back to their Avvo profile.
This helped Avvo get a DA score of 90, and own the legal space on the internet search. Just like Google owns the space, people have to pay to appear near the top of results.
This is how Avvo makes money.
But Avvo also offers additional services out of advertising and marketing. They also build websites for attorneys, although we are not sure how popular this is.
A lot of attorneys first hated Avvo when it came out, so Avvo had to force attorneys to be part of the community. Consumers were on the platform, so attorneys had to be there too. Just like with Google.
Once a lawyer’s profile gets a lot of traffic, Avvo will put advertising on the profile. Lawyers will have to pay to get competitor ads off their profiles.
The law firm can also pay Avvo to put their ads on other attorneys’ profiles. This upset a lot of law firms when it first came out.
Is Avvo Just Another Thing To Keep On Top Of?
No, it’s an opportunity for law firms to grow their practice. Before COVID, the Avvo conference attracted around 400 lawyers each year. There are a lot of lawyers out there that want to learn about marketing.
Purchasing a listing will make sure that you appear at the top of Avvo results. For lawyers that can afford it, it’s easier to pay than trying to appear in a high position in Avvo’s organic results.
Avvo also helps law firms optimize their websites for content and SEO. Although in our experience, most lawyers should just pay per lead or click. It costs ten of thousands of dollars at a minimum to build up a website for SEO. It could also be over $100K.
When You Get A Bad Review On Avvo
When a lawyer gets a negative client review, there are things they can do. Avvo said that 80% of the client reviews on their website are positive.
It’s not true that when an attorney puts themselves out there online that it will be the end of their reputation. If an attorney get’s a bad review, they should simply respond. They can also reflect on their own customer service.
Getting a negative review is an opportunity to show how your firm deals with conflict. You might say you are sorry they had the experience, talk about how you deal with negative feedback, and say that you reached out to them to make things right.
It’s about how you respond to the negative review. People want to know how you will deal with a conflict if something goes wrong when they hire you. And a negative review shows credibility. If a firm has 800 5-star reviews, it looks fake. Getting some bad reviews shows it’s legit. Having a 4.5-star rating is really good! It’s better than a bunch of fake 5-star reviews.
Did Avvo Force Attorneys to Join Its Community?
A lot of the previous lawsuits said that Avvo was using their identity without their consent. Unfortunately for them, consent wasn’t needed.
It seems that even lawyers don’t know that once they put information on the internet, it’s there forever.
Avvo will correct any incorrect information in the profile if you are concerned about that. Most of the time the public or the lawyer reaches out to Avvo to tell them about the issue.
If you change law firms or change practice areas, you need to let Avvo know.
When you go through the profile claiming process, you can tell Avvo what information you want on the website. It’s easier than fighting them.
The more information you fill out, the better Avvo rating you will get.
Does Avvo advertising work?
The main reason why attorneys should think about signing up for a paid account with Avvo is the amount of traffic the website gets.
As you can see above, Avvo.com gets over one million visits to the site every month. That’s insane!
The idea is that people are looking for legal help on the website. So if you are an attorney looking for more clients, you better be there as well.
The easiest way to think about if Avvo would work for your law firm is to do… research! Let’s say you are a criminal lawyer in Seattle. You should Google “criminal lawyer Seattle.”
Does Avvo come up? Have they established dominance in that keyword? You can see the results below.
For these results, you might be more interested to talk to Super Lawyers, Find Law, or even Yelp before Avvo. If you can make a good deal to get all of Superlawyers criminal law leads for Seattle, you will likely do really well.
Attorney directories often rank much higher than law firms. You can see there are a few law firms that managed to rank for the term. Vindicate Law and Blair and Kim did well. Black Law Seattle also got on the first page.
Compare prices between the directories, and see what kind of lead volume they can send you. Also, look for lead quality. It’s also important to ask the sales rep if you will get exclusive leads. You don’t want the same lead to be sent to ten different law firms.
Imagine being the lead and getting ten phone calls from law firms all in 60 minutes. That would be overwhelming. Always try and look at things from the perspective of the client.
Should You Become an Avvo Lawyer?
You might also just pay a company like Avvo to optimize your profile. Maybe paying for advertising and leads is too expensive. There might be ways to get leads for only around $50/month. That’s what ClearWay Law charges for a premium profile. And there’s a lot you can do with that.
It seems that Avvo always writes “Find the best SEARCH TERM in CITY- Avvo.” We are going to try that with our own SEO and see what happens.
At the very least, you should sign up for one of Avvo’s free profiles. Also, make sure that you respond to all reviews that you get on the website.
And you should also try out doing the Q+A. Try it for a few months, and see if it brings in leads. Don’t just try it for a few days and think that’s enough effort.
In conclusion, reach out to us if you have any questions about lawyer marketing. We are also happy to chat with you without trying to sell you anything. We love legal marketing! It’s fun for us.
Check out the video below, it’s pretty funny!
Author: Alistair Vigier