It’s Not Transparency When It’s A Lie

When I first learned of AttorneyFee dot com, the idea didn’t strike me  nearly as bad as the reverse fee auctions that might attract potential clients who wanted cheap, desperate, fungible lawyers, which now counts Avvo , once a candidate for legitimacy, as its victim.  Boy, was I wrong.

It’s not that there has been any sudden interest by the public in this scheme, but that a search for an old post here revealed something disturbing.  I have no involvement with this mutt of a website, and yet there I was, as if I had signed up to participate and was one of them.

How does my name happen to appear as if I was one of the lawyers trying to walk down the boulevard in hotpants?  I can’t say, but I can say that it’s there without my permission. Don’t bother trying to find out of you can afford me. And oddly enough, Avvo gets brought into the mix, though it says I have no rating.

Was it just me, I wondered?  So I checked for my buddy and top New York criminal defense lawyer, Nathan Burney.  There he was.



So I asked Nathan whether he signed up for this, and he responded ” Hell, no. Never heard of it.”  Yet, there he was.  And not only was he there, but somebody decided that his hourly rate was $550, which was pretty good given that some lawyers without anywhere near Nathan’s experience and expertise were charging the same or more.

It’s a lie, folks.  The cottage industry of businesses trying to skim off the burgeoning phony business of internet marketing is replete with shams.  And all of those who argue that this is good for clients, bringing transparency to the “opaque” legal profession have their eyes shut so tight that they refuse to see reality.  There is no transparency when it’s a lie.

Some lawyers, mostly because they really are clueless about how the internet works and fear that they are missing the money train by not hopping aboard, may sign up for all the phony marketing websites, submit their name and information, and sit back waiting for that silent phone to ring.  They’ll learn, and maybe their reputation for integrity won’t suffer too badly in the process.

But when I find my name on one of these websites, or the name of some other attorney I know and respect, who has never done anything to become embroiled with their marketing scheme, that’s when it’s time to spread the word again.  Maybe, just maybe, it will get through someone’s thick skull.

How long before the legal futurists and techno-lovers who pray at the alter of the internet marketing gods will come to understand that they’re promoting scams that deceive the public and make all of us, even lawyers who have nothing to do with this crap, look like slime? 

Even Avvo, which began its life as a beacon of lawyer transparency and has since morphed into another marketing scheme , lists lawyers that want nothing to do with it.  And if you claimed your profile once, you can never unclaim it.  And if you  don’t play the game the way Avvo wants you to, you will pay for it as your rating deteriorates. It may be nonsense, but any potential client searching for information about a lawyer won’t know it.

It’s bad, and it gets worse with every new scheme, every new website trying to make a quick buck off lawyer and client desperation.  When will it stop?  When will the sycophants stop promoting the next new thing and start demanding integrity and calling out the scams for what they are?

You want transparency?  How about we start with honesty. Stop the lies.


4 comments on “It’s Not Transparency When It’s A Lie

  1. Keith Lee

    These things are popping up like weeds. It seems like there is a new one every other week.

    As long as there is a buck to be made, someone will throw another one up. Just have to keep shedding light on the scam.

  2. Shawn McManus

    I’ve no evidence of it and no metaphorical “dog in this hunt” but I believe that Avvo is like other listing sites that started life with the best of intentions and, perhaps strapped for cash, started selling their registries to bottom feeders.

    The bottom feeders build up their sites’ values either by mass of information, amount of traffic, or just the amount of money it gets from advertising.

    They then in turn sell them as soon as they can.

    It stops when consumers of this information realize its value is that of an Enron pension. If P. T. Barnum was right, it isn’t going to be anytime soon.

  3. SHG

    I would like to think that about Avvo too. Or else, I’m even more foolish than I look, because I believed that they started with good intentions.

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