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Carl Shusterman's Immigration Update

Getting Free Immigration Legal Advice on Avvo.com

Rating: 3 votes, 2.33 average.
Avvo.com is an expert-only Q&A forum where people can ask legal questions of lawyers, for free. The Q&A forum is backed by an online directory of lawyers licensed in the United States. Avvo provides listings to which attorneys can submit their own profiles and histories. The listings may also include client reviews, disciplinary actions, and peer endorsements.

Avvo rates attorneys in various fields, including immigration law, on a ten-point scale with ten being the best. The website allows people to (1) research legal advice; (2) ask free questions to lawyers; and (3) find attorneys in various specialties and (4) to post reviews of lawyers.

Each attorney’s profile, in addition to the overall rating, ranks attorneys according to their (1) experience; (2) industry recognition and (3) professional conduct. Clients can post reviews of attorneys and other lawyers can post peer endorsements.

In addition, Avvo lists the lawyer’s phone number and address, and links to the attorney’s website, blog and social media sites.

If the attorney has been disciplined by the State Bar, Avvo will note this.

The lawyer can list his education, work experience, awards, associations that he is a member of, publications, speaking engagements and noteworthy cases that he has won.

In addition, those attorneys who participate in Avvo’s free question and answer forum are awarded points for answering questions, posting legal guides, having the asker mark the answer as “helpful” or as the “best answer” to a particular question.

Avvo Director Conrad Saam says that "Avvo provides three perspectives, three points of view of an attorney - the Avvo Rating, Client Ratings, and Peer Endorsements. We believe more information and more perspectives help consumers make smarter decisions."

I have devoted a lot of time to posting legal guides (175+) and answering questions (19,000+) on Avvo, so much so that my wife refers to herself as a “web widow”. There are three attorneys who have point totals of 1,000,000 or more on Avvo. In early March, I became the first to pass the 2,000,000 mark.

However, I do not believe that anyone should select an attorney based solely on his or her Avvo point totals.

Where Avvo can be truly helpful is getting simple legal questions answered for free, and allowing consumers to examine the profiles of various attorneys in order to make an informed choice as to the best attorney to handle their legal matter.

A couple pieces of advice about how to use Avvo:

  1. Some people present hugely complex scenarios on the question and answer forum, and expect lawyers to provide an online solution to their case. This is unrealistic. It is much better to schedule a legal consultation (in person, by phone or Skype) and allow the attorney to read the most important paperwork in a case before giving advice. Only if your question is simple like “How many days to I have to appeal a denial of my application?” can you expect the lawyers on Avvo to provide you with an answer online. I try to limit my answers to a sentence or two, and provide a link to a legal guide where possible, in order to allow the person who asked the question to read more about the subject of their question.
  2. Before choosing an attorney, it is important to spend time scrutinizing their Avvo profile to see not only their rating (In my opinion, it is way too easy to obtain a 10.0 rating.), but their years of experience, their client reviews and peer endorsements. Also, be sure to read about their successful cases, their publications and their speaking engagements.

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Comments

  1. David Nachman, Esq.'s Avatar
    Dear Carl:

    I began to answer questions on AVVO and then decided that the vagaries of the questions were causing me to leave caveats for almost every sentence I wrote.

    I believe (as I am sure you do too) that individuals seeking FREE legal advice on AVVO [and other FREE websites] may end-up in the "you get what you pay" world.

    For years I know you and your staff and the excellent reputation you command in the field of immigration law. Given the way that AVVO's point system works it seems like quality is reduced for the value of quantity.

    I am no longer sacrificing my precious personal time to get "points". When I did, I was feeling like the rat who was sitting in the cage clicking away at the lever waiting for a pellet to variably dropped!

    Very truly yours,

    David Nachman, Esq.
    Managing Attorney
    Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C.
    487 Goffle Road
    Ridgewood, New Jersey 07450

    Phone: 201-670-0006
    E-mail: david_nachman@visaserve.com

    http://www.visaserve.com
  2. lloyd@lebpc.com's Avatar
    Carl, Thanks so much for your interesting article. I sat in on a seminar you gave in San Francisco last year at the AILA Conference and decided to give AVVO a try. However, like David, I too stopped answering the daily list of questions for the sake of accumulating points. Many posters appear to be seeking second opinions for applications in process and others who were seeking advise received such complete answers from our colleagues that there was no reason for the poster to hire counsel. Since almost anything can be found on the net today I feel that "less is more". I think AVVO has value but only if our colleagues stop providing free legal advise and simply adviser the poster to seek competent legal counsel to resolve his/her issues in a line or two as you so noted..

    Lloyd Bennett, Esq.
    Union City, New Jersey.
  3. Michael E Piston's Avatar
    I congratulate you Carl for taking the time and patience to give REAL answers on Avvo, as opposed to the vast majority of answer posted by (purported) immigration attorneys which simply can be summarized as "talk to an immigration attorney". Unfortunately, the quality of questions are often as low as the answers, and it takes a great deal of time and patience to figure out what the questioner is really asking. I'm afraid I have neither. My hat is off to you for taking the time from your immensely busy practice to have mercy on the poor lost souls posting their barely coherent questions on Avvo.
  4. smurugappan's Avatar
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  6. deempal's Avatar
    I'm afraid I have neither. My hat is off to you for taking the time from your immensely busy practice to have mercy on the poor lost souls posting their barely coherent questions on Avvo.Justice thanks for information .

    what a wonderful post.
  7. Tanvee's Avatar
    How many days to I have to appeal a denial of my application?? can you expect the lawyers on Avvo to provide you with an answer online. I try to limit my answers to a sentence or two, and provide a link to a legal guide where possible, in order to allow the person who asked the question to read more about the subject of their question.getting free immigrationI hope it reaches your targetted audience. all the best thank you

    Enjoyed looking at this, very good stuff, appreciate it.
  8. Manish's Avatar
    I think AVVO has value but only if our colleagues stop providing free legal advise and simply adviser the poster to seek competent legal counsel to resolve his/her issues in a line or two as you so noted..Nice blog I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.

    Utterly pent content material
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