Can I trust Avvo to help me choose my Virginia divorce attorney?

More and more people these days turn to Avvo for help finding the perfect attorney to help them in a wide range of situations. In fact, if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past six months, you’ve probably seen the commercials. In case you haven’t, click here.  It’s really pretty funny, and definitely worth your time if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet.
If you’re looking for a lawyer, and if you’ve conducted any portion of your search online, you’ve probably already come across Avvo.
It’s a pretty cool site, where lawyers have profiles, and each profile is assigned a specific score. The best is a 10.0.
Obviously, word is getting around—because people now call our office all the time requesting to see only lawyers who have a perfect 10.0 on Avvo.

But is Avvo reliable? Is a perfect 10.0 really something that is going to help you determine a good lawyer from a bad lawyer?

It’s a good question. Just because everyone is using Avvo doesn’t mean it’s good. It also doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. But is Avvo all it’s cracked up to be?
Lawyers are making a big deal out of their Avvo profiles lately, too. It seems like I’m constantly barraged with people from Avvo calling me personally and blog posts from other lawyers about how to make sure your profile reflects a perfect 10.0. Like anything else, Avvo’s scores are based on an algorithm. It looks at years of experience, published cases, speaking engagements, and other factors to come up with a numerical representation of a person’s ability to practice law. If any disciplinary action has been noted against a particular lawyer, that will reflect in the score, too.
Still, a lot of it is puffery. A lot if it is systematic, so there are ways of making sure that you maximize your score—and lawyers know about it, so the ones who really care are making sure to game the system, so to speak.
Does that mean that sucky lawyers are getting 10.0s? No, it doesn’t. Avvo still takes into account a lot of factors, so a 10.0 means mostly good things. For the most part, lawyers with a 10.0 are a pretty reliable bet. They aren’t necessarily the most qualified attorneys in the world, just because they have a 10.0, but they’re usually a pretty solid choice.
What it doesn’t mean, though, is that a lawyer who isn’t a 10.0 isn’t any good. Lots of lawyers don’t really care about Avvo. Some, particularly the old guys, haven’t even claimed their Avvo profiles yet. (You can imagine why. If you’ve been practicing since dinosaurs roamed the earth, you have no need of Avvo—your reputation speaks for itself.)
Avvo certainly has its place in the world—obviously, because I think it’s pretty safe to say that more and more people are relying on it all the time. And, the truth is, there are sooo many review sites these days, it’s hard to keep track. Avvo is nice in the sense that it really only does one thing—it reviews attorneys. You can look up attorneys in other places, like Google Local, LinkedIn, or even Yelp, but Avvo exists only to rate and review licensed attorneys. You go there looking for one type of information, and you can find it.
You’ll see reviews by former clients, by other attorneys, and a list of what the attorney has published, where he or she has spoken, and the types of law he or she typically practices. It’s a lot of information, and many people find it helpful, especially when they don’t know enough about the law and the legal profession to make an educated decision otherwise. There’s certainly nothing wrong with researching your choice, and using the best tools at your disposal to make an educated decision. If Avvo helps, then use Avvo.
Still, you should also recognize Avvo’s limitations. Like I said before, there are a number of awesome attorneys out there who haven’t claimed profiles or, if they’ve claimed them, really haven’t taken steps to maximize their scores online.
Also, Avvo also features paid advertising spots. Notice that a particular attorney’s picture keeps popping up? Chances are very good that the attorney paid to appear in front of you, based on what you’ve searched. Avvo allows certain attorneys to have expanded profiles if they’ve paid for advertising, too. Make sure that, if you use Avvo, you’re picking your attorney based on their awesome credentials—and not the paid advertising spots that Avvo chooses to shove in front of your face as you browse.

So, what should I do to make sure that I find the right attorney—whether or not I use Avvo to help me search?

Avvo is a good place to start, but, then again, so too are Google Local and Yelp. Lots of places allow consumers to leave reviews of their experiences, and I don’t think one is necessarily any better than the other. Avvo is…interesting, for sure, and there’s lots of information on the site, especially if your attorney is one who has claimed a profile. (If not, though, I don’t think you should assume that they aren’t as good as their highly ranked counterparts!)
I think the best way to make a decision is always by using your own independent judgment. Look at things across a number of different sources, and then make a decision yourself based on what you’ve found. No one site (including Avvo) provides enough information exclusively for you to make your decision.
Hiring an attorney, especially a family law attorney, is a really important step in the process, and you’ll certainly want to make sure you have the best person possible representing you. Use your own independent judgment and critical thinking powers to make the best decision possible.
A good place to start is by ordering a free copy of my book, “The Women’s Guide to Selecting an Outstanding Divorce and Custody Attorney.” It’s free, and there are no strings attached, but you’ll learn all about attorney advertising, the questions you should be asking in an initial consultation, how to tell a good attorney from a so-so one, and even helps you compare attorneys at a glance by providing a scorecard you can fill in as you research and begin to meet with attorneys.
Did I mention it’s free? And it’s a great place to start, plus it’s unbiased (unlike Avvo, which will always push you towards hiring the attorneys that paid to advertise with them). You don’t have to hire us; we just want to make sure that you have the information you need to make this decision.
For more information, or to request a free copy of my book, visit our website by clicking here. You’ll receive an e-book version right away, delivered to your inbox, and, if you live in our immediate area, you’ll have the option to fill in your address to receive a hard copy. We’ll mail it to you in a plain white envelope (no one will no what’s in it), and you’ll be free to write in it or highlight through it to your heart’s content.
It’s a great way to get started, especially if you can’t make heads or tails of what you’ve found online. Use my book to give you an edge—so you can tell a great attorney from a not so great one. Don’t rely on Avvo to do it for you! After all, who knows better who (and what) you’re looking for than you?

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