Rate My Lawyer Site Gets Sued…. but a CALI Award Will Increase Your Score!

What does the new website, Avvo, which rates lawyers and CALI Awards have to do with each other?

Read on…

A new website, Avvo (shortened "avvocato" which is italian for lawyer) purports to rank lawyers based on objective algorithmic evidence…

"…scores are calculated using a mathematical model, all lawyers arejudged by the same standards. The Avvo Rating takes into account manyfactors, including experience, professional achievements, anddisciplinary sanctions…"

I looked up some famous lawyers I know about and they did indeed have a lower score. For example, see "Fast Eddie" Vrdolyak’s rating here. Mr. Vrdolyak was a longtime alderman in the Chicago City Council and was recently indicted on fraud charges. This wasn’t the reason for his low score – rather he had been sanctioned by the ARDC in the past.

Of more personal interest, a commenter on Slashdot noted that they have a higher score due to the CALI Awards they received in law school. Law students receive a CALI for achieving the highest grade in a course. Looks like Avvo’s been crawling the CALI website.

Only half the law schools in the U.S. participate in the CALI Excellence for the Future Awards program. Perhaps I will get a few more emails this week.

A few years back, someone started posting death rates for hospitals and doctors on the web. It was a simple statistic, but it’s one of those statistics that is easy to misinterpret out of context. Some doctors just have sicker patients, right?

I was wondering why no one seems to have posted attorney ratings based on wins/losses in court cases. Wouldn’t you like to know if your attorney was a "winner"?

Avvo doesn’t do that…yet.

The reason for the Slashdot story is that an attorney is suing Avvo for his low rating. It looks like the data that Avvo is using is publicly available information, which would be an argument in their favor, I presume (IANAL).

More relevant, Avvo lets former clients post reviews of their experiences with attorneys. Sort of like an Angie’s List for lawyers (though Angie doesn’t have any listings or ratings for lawyers). Why shouldn’t clients rate lawyers like they do plumbers, carpenters and dog-walkers?

It looks like someone has thought about suing Angie’s List for a poor rating posted by a user, but …

"… he’d like to sue Angie’s List but that his attorney tells him it’s protected…"

Angie’s List doesn’t rate vendors though – the users do. Angie just aggregates the information.

I can certainly see a downside to non-contextual rankings and sites like RateMyProfessor.com and the US News Rankings of law schools have both been villified for their lack of context (former) or opaque/unfair methodology (latter).

Still, more information is better and the web is certainly all about more information.


It will be interesting to see where this goes.

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