The subject line of the email read:
A prospective traffic ticket client in Staten Island, NY would like you to review their case
Huh? What the heck is this?
Avvo. The company that began life as the new high tech solution for lawyer ratings, a bastion of integrity and transparency, where co-founder Paul Bloom explained:
The Avvo Legal Marketplace has a prospective client for you!
If you’re looking for new clients, Avvo’s Legal Marketplace is where to find them. A prospective client just posted their traffic ticket case details and is ready to hire an attorney. Review the case details and, if interested, submit your proposal.
This case has been sent to: 97 attorneys in the Staten Island area
The overarching problem Avvo was created to address is that consumers are lost when it comes to choosing a lawyer. In a recent Ipsos survey (sponsored by Avvo), only 17% of consumers said it was easy to find detailed information about lawyers; only 17% said they were very confident in their ability to choose the right lawyer; and up to 25 million over the past 2 years said they considered hiring a lawyer but didn’t because they didn’t know how to choose the right one.
But that was back when Avvo sought to establish its legitimacy. Good times. As with all shiny new tech companies, the day eventually comes when it needs to monetize its empty rhetoric. First, there was the atrocity of Avvo Answers to get dumb eyeballs so they could sell advertising. But there are only so many ad dollars to spread across a really big internet, so that wasn’t enough.
Avvo then reinvented itself. No longer was it a lawyer rating service, but now a lawyer marketing company. After all, if lawyers are foolish enough to waste their time answering idiotic questions for free in the hope of scoring a new case, they’ll certainly be happy to pay for their smiling face to appear on somebody else’s profile. Or show up at Avvocating. Or Lawyernomics. I can’t wait to find out what they call it next year.
But this? The hard core legal referral market? Seriously?
My best guess, since it’s not like anybody at Avvo asked me if I want to participate in their latest scheme, is that because my profile says I’m a criminal defense lawyer, they are offering me up to people who are interested in finding a lawyer to handle their traffic ticket. Me and 96 other lawyers. Why not an even 100, I dunno, but apparently Avvo thinks that there are 97 lawyers who are so utterly desperate as to bid for this fellow’s traffic ticket work.
Are they fucking nuts?
I don’t blame the guy who put his ticket out to bid. Avvo tells him that there are millions of lawyers desperate for his business, and thrilled at the opportunity to persuade him that they are worthy of his sawbuck. After all, this is the same company that has taught clients that lawyers time and advice is utterly valueless, and so they should call at will for free answers to stupid questions, make appointments then show up if the mood strikes them, and interview 97 lawyers for their traffic ticket in Staten Island.
But oh, it gets worse. Not only have they decided that I’m deeply interested in bidding for this guy’s ticket, but if I am deemed worthy, I get to pay Avvo $10 for the privilege. It’s there in the FAQs, though they don’t mention how much a lawyer is willing to pay Avvo for the right to “participate” in their latest inane scheme.
And Avvo is kind enough to explain why lawyers desperately want to “participate”:
Attorneys participate in the Avvo Legal Marketplace because it offers an efficient and effective way to showcase their expertise and experience to consumers who are ready to hire.Doesn’t that sound better than saying that lawyers want to strut down the boulevard in hotpants, holding hands with Mark Britton (who is a fine looking guy, I hasten to add) in the hope they will spur some burning desire in you?
Except I don’t want to participate, but Avvo never asked. And I don’t want to participate, but Avvo offers no way to opt out. And I don’t do traffic tickets, but Avvo doesn’t seem to care. After all, this is all about integrity and transparency, with a side of Avvo trying to stay afloat at $10 a throw.
Or maybe, just maybe, as Mark Bennett suggested, the real money maker is charging lawyers $20 to stop getting this crap from Avvo.