Avvo Revisited

The image “https://i0.wp.com/avvo.com/images/img_logo.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.More than a year in development, legal search and ratings site Avvo officially launched yesterday. The site allows users to search by geography and practice area or by lawyer name. It combines data from public records and (eventually) clients, community members and legal peers to offer a composite rating for every attorney practicing in the U.S.. Like real estate site Zillow, which shares Benchmark Capital as a funder, Avvo builds lots of functionality (and eventually community) around a core set of data.

The rest of my write up is at SEL.

Note that as a former attorney I’m more critical than ordinary consumers are going to be. This is a good start but there’s lots of work to do before this can be a stand-alone vehicle for finding and evaluating lawyers. Much of that involves getting community participation, especially from former clients.

That recapitulates the challenges that any community site has in creating incentives for people to participate. Still the legal market is missing a highly usable, consumer friendly “Web 2.0” site that helps recommend lawyers. The market segments that this is targeting are small businesses in need of legal help and individuals. (Large firms and corporate clients generally don’t need this service). Right now, for the majority of people, word of mouth is really the only way to find a lawyer and it’s a very imperfect system.

In fairness, the site just launched and there will be many improvements to come I’m sure.

The business model is advertising, with legal being the largest revenue category in the print yellow pages (more than $1 billion annually). And if the site gains traction among consumers, it’s quite likely that self-service will work here on the advertiser side. Attorneys are going to be much more aggressive and proactive than typical small businesses.

The end game, if the site succeeds, is an eventual acquisition by a larger competitor like a LexisNexis or even a media company like an IAC.


2 Responses to “Avvo Revisited”

  1. ResourceShelf » New Database: Avvo (Attorney Info) Says:

    […] Sterling from Screenwerk and Search Engine Land provides a thorough overview (as he always does!) to Avvo. Sterling writes: […]

  2. Avvo Changes Ratings Scheme « Screenwerk Says:

    […] The ratings, the site’s central value proposition, have become something of a lightening rod for controversy, spawning a lawsuit. Here are my two post on Avvo at launch (SEL, Screenwerk). […]

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