Last week saw the launch of another stuctured database play, and I love it. This one is Seattle’s Avvo founded by a cadre of Expedia expats — it’s goal is to help consumers by creating an easy way to “Find the Right Lawyer” for their needs. They do this primarily by gathering a bunch of information including (a) years licensed to practice, (b) infractions, if any (c) reviews from peers and customers and other bunches of information. They then use this, in a black-box style, to generate a ‘rating’ (ala Zillow’s oft-discussed Zestimate)
So… who wouldn’t like such a wealth of information, you ask? Hmmm… let’s think about that one… hmmm… I’m just stumped. Wait… wait… I have a guess… maybe “Lawyers with Dubious Pasts, Alex?” Bingo, you get the prize, fella!
So, within days of launch, Avvo’s being threatened with a Class Action Lawsuit by a John Henry Browne — he’s an attorney with a slightly low Avvo rating — it looks like that’s being influenced by an Admonition from August of 2005 where was scolded for overcharging a client.
Now, there are probably many legitimate reasons for that overcharge, and I can’t believe that any of Mr. Browne’s loyal clients would leave him because of it, if he could explain those reasons. But, I think it’s totally legitimate for this information to be available — else, how can unassuming customers make truly informed decisions? It’s akin to “trusting a car salesman”, isn’t it?
p.s. This lawsuit threat is another example of “there is no bad PR”. Not only is John Henry Browne going to blast his past out for all to see and look like a litigious lawyer (which consumers detest), but it’s going to make Avvo look like the white knight… awesome!