Carl Shusterman's Immigration Update
, 03-05-2014 at 07:23 PM (11876 Views)
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:
- 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.
- 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.