This year marks Avvo’s 10th anniversary. In that time, it has grown from a lawyer profile directory to an enormous lawyer ratings, legal Q&A, and online marketing platform. It is also host to one of the leading business-of-law conferences, Avvo’s annual Lawyernomics event in Las Vegas, which I’m excited to attend for the first time.

Avvo is an important and valuable part of the legal tech community. Its CEO, Mark Britton, was just a keynote speaker at ABA TECHSHOW 2017, and its Director of Industry Relations, Dan Lear, just participated in our second TBD Law conference, and they are well regarded as thought leaders in the solo and small firm universe.

But over the past ten years, some lawyers have really hated Avvo.

Above, you can see Dan Lear holding the full stack of angry letters Avvo has received from lawyers over the years. (That doesn’t include all the angry emails.) It seems worth noting that despite all of these threatening letters from lawyers, only eight of them have ever actually sued Avvo, and none of those cases ever made it past pleading or resulted in Avvo paying a cash settlement or deleting a profile.

Below are 10 of the most amazing and outrageous (and redacted) letters lawyers have sent to Avvo over the years to threaten and complain about the ridiculous things they hate about Avvo. Thanks to Avvo General Counsel Josh King for sharing them with us.

Enjoy.

10. F*ck Your Warm Regards (2008)

This angry lawyer likes to yell in all caps to make his point. He also hates politeness.

Angry Avvo Letter 1

9. Two Exclamation Points is Too Many (2012)

This lawyer has some very nuanced thoughts about red exclamation points and fire alarms.

He also thinks it’s very alarming (pun intended) to address people by their first name.

Angry Avvo Letter 2

8. The One with All the Latin (2013)

This excerpt from a much longer letter shows a lawyer doing some deep legal analysis for Avvo’s education. Josh indicated that a simple brief request would have been sufficient here.

Angry Avvo Letter 3

7. This is BOGUS (2013)

This lawyer’s 6.5 Avvo rating demonstrates, obviously, that Avvo’s entire ratings system is BOGUS.

Angry Avvo Letter 4

6. What the Font? (2013)

Please, please, please tell me this isn’t how this lawyer actually formats documents and correspondence.

Angry Avvo Letter 5

Angry Avvo Letter 6

Angry Avvo Letter 7

5. Josh King is a Perve [sic] (2013)

To make his point that the internet can unfairly categorize people, this lawyer did his own opposition research for fake internet content about Avvo’s Josh King. The lawyer then spelled perv wrong, which for some reason makes this even more amazing.

Angry Avvo Letter 8

Josh King is a perv

4. One MILLION Dollars! (2014)

This lawyer demanded a LOT of money from Avvo. Like right now. Avvo decided not to pay it.

Angry Avvo Letter 9

 

3. Avvo Doesn’t Want You to Die (2015)

This lawyer really didn’t want to be listed in Avvo, so, rather than dying, she withdrew from the profession.

Angry Avvo Letter 11

2. This is Just, Like, Your Baseless Net Opinion, Man (2015)

The Department of Justice will definitely want to hear about Avvo’s EXTORTION.

Angry Avvo Letter 12

1. Attorneys Are Evil, Vile, and Pus-Filled

In fairness, this is just a random internet person, not a lawyer, but it’s definitely an angry letter to Avvo.

Angry Avvo Letter 13

Angry Avvo Letter 14

16 Comments

  1. Liz McCausland says:

    Amazing is right! It does leave me to wonder if any of them reviewed Josh King on Avvo and what his rating is!

  2. Carol says:

    LOL…….As quoted by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. “You can’t handle the truth”. Seems to me these lawyers definitely can’t handle the truth. Keep up the good work Avvo.

  3. Judith Wolff says:

    Dear Ethan at Avvo,

    If you are asked why I decided not to continue advertising with Avvo, this link explains it all: https://lawyerist.com/151752/avvo-threats/ .

    It was very discouraging to read this article last night on Facebook. Some people have legitimate, understandable concerns about not wanting their names carried on Internet vehicles over which they have no control and didn’t ask to be part of. They have every right to their privacy. To make fun of them, to insist that their names WILL be carried on Avvo whether they like it or not, is not the behavior of a company I want to be associated with. Re-publishing those communications (albeit with names redacted) so that thousands of people can enjoy how ridiculous the privacy-protesters are, and how clever Avvo is for shutting them down, is genius in how to torpedo a business.

    The photograph of whoever that is, grinning at the pile of complaint letters, is something I might expect from fifteen year old boys, who will then have their privileges revoked for a week. (I hope that’s not your CEO).

    There are many directories available.

    Best regards,
    Judith Wolff

  4. Morris G says:

    AVVO as publisher of the truth? That’s both laughable or depressing. It is in fact a deeply flawed measure of a lawyer’s talent. I recently compared the ratings of a few incompetent hacks here in Seattle (one of whom is the subject of a current malpractice suit) with two of the most reputable trial lawyers in the country. The incompetents had much higher scores than the legends.

    We all know attorneys who diligently cultivate their ratings by begging disingenuous endorsements from attorney friends, publishing pointless swill where they can, begging buddies to review them, etc. The fact is, the AVVO rating system favors the more sociable or the more manipulative, and not the most talented. I have a high AVVO score. Guess what? I didn’t get it by being talented.

    Such a flawed means of assessing a lawyer’s worth does both the legal community and the community of lay people in need of legal help a huge disservice. I am certain that AVVO ratings regularly steer people toward bad results, and sometimes disaster. Hardly worth grinning about.

    I have met Dan Lear, the grinning guy with the stack of lawyer letters. While he may be admitted to practice, it became clear to me over the course of my involvement with him at the WSBA that he knew very little about lawyering. Unemployed JDs sometimes end up on the periphery of the legal world in jobs like this and seem to rarely figure out what lawyers actually do. I presume this is the case with Mr. Lear.

  5. Jeff says:

    Do Attorneys not realize their information is ALREADY online. Avvo just makes it easier to find it.

    If you don’t want to know that you were disciplined or had your license revoked maybe DON’T do shady stuff

  6. Peg Manning says:

    I am appalled at both the promotion of AVVO and the tone of this article, which seems gleeful about AVVO’s attitude toward lawyers who believe that their website is troubling. Obviously, anyone can publish the list of attorneys at the bar. The inclusion of putative ratings system, however, raises serious questions and approaches extortion, IMO.

  7. Peg Manning says:

    For example, AVVO seems to assign a mediocre 6.5 rating to everyone and then raises the rating if you agree to participate in their system: “Control your online reputation.”
    Including a “check the record of discipline” or “check criminal record” is really misleading.

  8. James says:

    Aaron, your breathless endorsement of an ad platform like Avvo is unbecoming. Don’t waste your editorial credibility on them. You’re better than that.

    • Sam Glover says:

      Here’s why I think this sentiment—and similar sentiments expressed elsewhere in the comments to this post—misses the point.

      Sure, Avvo is an ad platform for lawyers. It is also one of the only companies (perhaps the only company) making a serious attempt to solve one of the biggest problems facing consumers in need of legal help: how to find a good lawyer. I don’t think lawyers appreciate how hard it is for the average consumer to find a lawyer in whom they can have any degree of confidence.

      I realize lawyers hate the idea of ratings and reviews, and there are some flaws in Avvo’s rating system. But Avvo is working hard at making its ratings better, all the time. Nobody else is even trying.

      I wish lawyers would welcome ratings and reviews and help to improve them instead of fighting them at every turn. Like them or not, they aren’t going anywhere. And fighting them only validates consumers’ already low opinion of the legal profession.

  9. James says:

    Yes, but here’s the problem Sam – what are these ratings based on? Do you know? Does anyone other than Avvo know? How much advertising do I have to buy to find out? How does the consumer know that the rating is useful or accurate? Avvo (as it currently works) is just swapping one opaque process with another and then profiting from it.

    Further, this article isn’t an op-ed about access to justice, it’s just making fun of attorneys that have struggled with Avvo’s black box approach to ratings. Were these attorneys acting boorishly? Sure, but that doesn’t mean the Lawyerist should sink to that level. I love the Lawyerist’s light-hearted, forward-thinking approach to law practice… but this ain’t it. This article just seems mean-spirited.

    • Sam Glover says:

      Avvo is quite forthcoming about what its ratings are based on. It’s all public, because all the information it takes into account is on your profile. Avvo doesn’t tell you exactly how much a particular factor counts, in order to minimize lawyers trying to game the system. But there’s quite a lot of detail on the Avvo rating in the support pages. You can find more information elsewhere. For example, Josh King explained in my article on the Goat Lawyer’s Avvo rating that peer endorsements don’t help above a certain number of reviews, and that non-legal awards don’t increase your rating. There’s more if you look.

      As for this article, you initially criticized Aaron for his “breathless endorsement of an ad platform like Avvo,” which is what I was responding to. I don’t agree with you that this article is an endorsement of Avvo. If anything, it’s an endorsement of the position that bullying letters and empty threats are unprofessional and worthy of ridicule. It’s in the same vein as our collection of epic responses to legal threats, except that Josh King’s responses are restrained and professional, as a rule, which is why we didn’t bother to include them here.

    • Judith Wolff says:

      I completely agree. Mean-spirited is the perfect word.

  10. Sam says:

    For a time, Avvo called me every week (sometimes every day) leaving voicemails about my profile. I repeatedly declined any interest in doing so, and politely requested they stop calling me. I don’t know what made them stop, but I don’t think it was me asking. Above-board companies do not need to engage in cut-rate tactics like this.

    Lawyers are often busy, stressed overworked people dealing with (at times) life-or-death matters. Now make them take time out of their day to try to fix some issues with Avvo’s not-infrequently sloppy or misleading public disclosures. And Avvo and (Lawyerist) wonders why some of them fly off the handle like this?

  11. Rodney A. Hampton says:

    My opinion of Avvo is very low. I’ve built out part of my profile and spent some time in the forums where I answered 52 questions – 3 of them marked as ‘[b]est’ by the ‘asker,’ 28 marked as ‘I agree’ by other lawyers, 5 answers marked as ‘helpful’ by other users. Net result of such efforts on my score of 6.0 ‘Good’ has been ZERO. My time is much more valuable than that. I have no desire to put effort into improving my ranking on Avvo and there is, apparently, little to no chance of removing a profile from that site.

  12. Steve Eugster says:

    Whenever I think of AVVO I think of reading “The Devil and Daniel Webster” again.

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