The Age of AVVO.com: Will We Fall Victim to the Q&A Addiction?

I discovered Avvo.com months after the legal controversy over whether it aids, confuses or libels the public and attorneys, respectively. I support Avvo.com, with my advertising dollars, responses, guides, along with time and effort.  I know that it prompts the same questions as all internet promotional tools available to the legal community. Avvo.com, in my opinion, can be efficient marketing tool when used properly.  I am still learning. Yet, we all have our modes and some work better than others.

Whether it is a Google-pimped website, a SuperLawyer page, lawyers.com, or a rock solid 10 point record on Avvo, there is still room to prove yourself to the skeptical.  The challenge is how and when to say when. The Q&A point spread is not everything. I’ve learned to live with it. I try to answer more sparingly. I choose to represent clients rather than become a perpetual slave to the public that surfs and serves up avvo.com questions.

Avvo.com provides lawyers a platform to demonstrate competence.  However, it depends upon the honor system on how to be ethically considerate to the public, among others, including your colleagues.  There are unspoken rules of the road. For that matter, eBay.com has evolved unwritten guidelines in that retail trade that encourage a sense of appreciation and respect.

Here are a few observation. First, the attorney who answers the most questions is not the most accessible nor able. Second, the Q&A points that an attorney accumulates may be based upon how many times he or she responds with the words, “I agree.” The ability to answer a question and score points with a few keystrokes gained from another’s  well thought out answer of another may evoke little public sympathy. Yet, points are still gained and attorney photos rise from the depths of avvo.com obscurity.

How does Avvo deter this wild west like shoot out? Well, it has limited impact. Yet, if you wish to answer a question on the coat tails of another attorney’s efforts, or snidly answer, think first. Avvo.com allows the person posting the question to pick the best answer.  This is true even if you disagree.  In addition, there is no 800 number to call if your practice falls victim to avvo enthusiasm.

What can you do as an attorney? Or as someone who has concern? Well, for the adept attorney, you may find a way to publicize the “best answer”  appreciation when it occurs. Yet, your general information should not create an attorney client relationship.  Attorneys can link the gratitude to  anywhere they deem appropriate.

This may wake up the public to your knowledge and appreciation of the law.  Whether the public ever rises and cares to call for anything other than a request for a free consultation is another challenge.

Yet, I certainly respect an attorney’s right “to agree.” Even if I try to refrain from the temptation out of subtle consent.  In a system where avvo.com legal guides are easily outdated, why post current news that will soon be obsolete?  Should attorneys perpetuate questionable discretion, rather than professionalism in public?

In the end it was an immigration attorney eager for U.S. Immigration visa lottery applicants, who proved to the world that some spam simply lacks good taste. Sorry Charlie! Some tuna may not be fit for consumption. However, the jury is still out to lunch.

I’ll try to send my compassion and kudos to colleagues in the future, but in private.

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