“I’m Convinced Avvo Sucks, but I Have No Problem Gaming Their System”

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From /r/Lawyers (private):

Post here if you are interested in sharing mutual endorsements on AVVO.

There was interest in doing it in the other thread, so figured I’d set it up. I’m convinced AVVO sucks, but I have no problem gaming their system so that a 2 year licensed lawyer (me) can get a higher rating than sitting Supreme Court Justices.

I’ll base mine off your post history here in /r/lawyers since I don’t want to be unethical about it. Just something along the lines of “always helpful and informative, or very candid but professional assessments, blah blah blah.”

Someone also mentioned we’ll have to stagger the reviews so they aren’t flagged for coming in too fast. If there are at least 5 or so people that want to do it then I’ll set it up. Maybe we’ll set up a temporary private reddit so we aren’t sharing our personal information with all of /r/lawyers, not that the mods don’t have that information anyway. Any suggestions or thoughts on this, please feel free to share.

tl;dr: A bunch of strangers are going to “endorse” one another on the basis of their post history on an internet forum best known for its jokes and for hosting some of the darker corners of the Internet. That seems like a pretty thin basis for an endorsement to me, but according to the Avvo Rating FAQ, it will probably work.

Peer endorsements do affect your Avvo Rating …. This is because peer endorsements–one lawyer endorsing another’s skills and experience–are a way to assess industry recognition, which is a factor in how we calculate an attorney’s Avvo Rating.

Is it unethical? Probably not, so long as the contents of the endorsements are accurate. Does it come off as desperate? Yep. If you have to resort to strangers on Reddit for endorsements, you should probably lose Avvo Rating points instead of gaining them.

Then again, as another lawyer said in the referenced thread:

Basing an endorsement off of /r/lawyers posts would be more genuine than half the endorsements I already see on the website.

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  • Josh King

    As we always try to stress to lawyers, this is a dumb move. Having a bunch of “empty” endorsements may slightly boost a lawyer’s Avvo Rating, but it looks like crap. People hiring a lawyer want to read the details, whether in client reviews or peer endorsements. And if they see a bunch of posts along the lines of “I don’t know this lawyer personally, but they’re AWESOME on Reddit LOL”, that’s not exactly confidence-inspiring. It’s far better to get detailed endorsements from people who actually know your work and can offer a detailed perspective on it.

  • This behavior is rampant and not limited to Avvo. At best it’s misleading.

  • Anon-Attorney

    I must say I disagree with some of the central assertions of the article, primarily the light in which the efforts are being cast. I do not see the functional difference between attorneys networking through online mediums with verifiable identities (like reddit) and attorneys attending mixers at their local bar associations, talking briefly about the weather, and deciding to endorse attorneys based loosely on personality.

    What the ideal outcome would be is if attorney endorsements were based entirely on attorneys who have sat on the other side of the V from us, but nothing about the AVVO Terms of Use or the practical application of the system have resulted in such efforts.

    The Reddit Lawyers community is one based on mutual respect for the professional, a community that shares practice tips, general litigation strategies, and support for our fellow attorneys. These recommendations are not, as one commentator suggests, based on who with think is “reddit awesome”. They are based on a thorough understanding of their practice styles and knowledge of the law; far more than most recommendations are based on.

    • While /r/Lawyers is certainly a professional community (like MILO, SoloSez, or our own Lab) where lawyers can get to know one another well enough to make a real recommendation, that’s not what was contemplated in the thread to which I linked. The OP explicitly mentioned “gaming Avvo,” which is where the title of this post came from. What he or she described was not endorsements based on mutual respect, but endorsements for the sake of endorsements. Gaming.

      I can’t think of anything wrong with endorsing a lawyer you’ve come to respect via an online community rather than traditional offline networking. But that’s not what the OP in Reddit was talking about.

      • Scott Collins

        Most attorneys that are respected don’t have to ask someone to fake like they like them. I looked at your Avvo profile, doesn’t look like this method helped you get peer endorsements since your most of them were written 4-5 years ago. I’m confused to why someone with a good rating and good client reviews wouldn’t like a website that highlighted their good work, seems like a personal attack maybe?

        • Who is your comment directed to? I wrote the post you are commenting on, but I didn’t write the quotation I used as a title or the Reddit post that goes with it.

          I don’t have any problem with Avvo. I think you’ll see it’s the lawyers trying to “game the system” that I’m criticizing, not Avvo. FWIW, my endorsements are a few years old because lawyering hasn’t been my day job for a few years now. Anyone who endorsed me now wouldn’t have much to go on unless they were endorsing me for my pro bono work.