F**k Avvo.

It’s been a long time since I had to censor a post title. I don’t tend to place curse words in the post titles simply because it’s bad practice, and it decreases the number of lawyers and legal folk that will promote, retweet, or link to the post in the long run. Some people care about what their social media displays, because they’ve linked the social media accounts to their professional image and firms and can’t really promote stuff that blatantly curses out others. It’s bad form for a lawyer to be professionally retweeting stuff about bondage gear and the like, and it’s bad form for a lawyer to be promoting blog posts that contain a string of curse words.

But Avvo, the legal website that lets people ask questions for free and allows lawyers to answer those questions for free, has drawn the anger of a drunken litigator for the last goddamn time. I’ve had it. I’ve had it up to my fucking throat in relation to this cesspool of legal marketing disguised as an “access to justice” resource for the general public and their “gun to your head” tactic of recruiting attorneys lockstep into their site. It’s time, motherfuckers. It’s fucking time for the reckoning of the angered lawyer to come down upon you with the full fucking force and let you know exactly how fucking much most practicing lawyers hate your exploitative asses.

Cover your goddamn ears, ye of big firm connections, because today Lawyers & Liquor is lashing out for the little guy who doesn’t have the goddamn time to answer the phone and explain for the 15th fucking time to some faceless rep that they have no goddamn interest in buying a promoted listing from you.

Today, we’re the Avvo-fucking-Avengers.

Let me explain what Avvo is for the poor unintiated souls out there: it’s essentially a lawyer referral service masquerading as a way for people to gain access to justice. Muggles can login and ask questions of lawyers about a number of things, and attorneys from all over the world can respond with their take on the situation. Then the poor muggle can click on the photograph of the answering lawyer and get their information, hopefully to contact the attorney after having been dazzled by the lawyer’s wit and knowledge. Outside of the fact that a lawyer from, say, Mumbai could be answering your state-specific landlord-tenant question from Michigan, it doesn’t sound too bad.

Except for the fact that lawyers don’t sign up for Avvo so much as they are drafted onto Avvo against their will. See, Avvo is a bit like your local draft board, diving deep into the rolls of attorneys in each state, even as those rolls are being updated, and creating a blank profile for every goddamn lawyer on the thing. That means that every attorney with a law license automatically has a profile on the Avvo site, which just sits there with a little message saying that it’s unclaimed. This is a remarkable form of peer pressure, because other attorneys are going in and claiming their profile and you remain simply a blank page with a low rating on Avvo until you give up, login, and claim your profile.

And, to be clear, claiming your fucking profile is necessary because Avvo essentially markets itself to the public at large as being a site for the common man to get some free legal advice without even swinging by an attorney’s office for a consultation, and lawyers fucking go for it because somewhere someone once got a client from Avvo. If you don’t claim your profile, you may be the only lawyer in your area not on Avvo and therefore the only one who looks like a poorly-rated moron. So you have to claim your profile.

This shit isn’t new, though, and it’s not even my main problem with Avvo. Lawyers have been paying to be ranked and appear in rankings since the invention of lawyers. Sure, before that whole “prohibition on attorney advertising” thing was ended, we didn’t do it in quite this way, but things like Martindale-Hubbell have pretty much always compiled listings of attorneys in a neat little directory form and given them ratings. So, yeah, that part of Avvo is okay I guess.

The part that isn’t okay with me is the goddamn sales calls.

The second, and I mean the goddamn second, you log into Avvo for the first time, the Avvo marketing squad starts fucking calling you. And calling you. And calling you. Then, to break the monotony, they email you, because this is the 21st century and salesmen need to be annoying on several fronts in order to fully meet their life goal of destroying your peace. Want to tell them you aren’t interested? Cool, you can do that, and they’ll even mark you as not being interested or being in a firm (and therefore not allowed to make marketing decisions) for a while.

Until, you know, you log the fuck into Avvo again. Then it’s time for the plaid suits and slicked back hair to come back out as the phone rings incessantly.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if they track your logins to decide when to call, the answer is of course they fucking do. Quick story time: last week I logged into Avvo because I’d gotten a message that a “potential new client had sent me a message.” The moment I logged in my phone rang.  It was Avvo. My paralegal bravely tried to tell the salesman we don’t use Avvo, to which the salesman replied, I shit you not, “Yes you do, he just logged in.”

Avvo right now is like one step away from a guy sitting in a tree watching me undress through the bathroom window.

Oh, by the way, this shit isn’t just me. I asked another lawyer what he thought about Avvo. The response was as follows:

Avvo. I use it, but their sales team are a gigantic pain in the ass.

That should be their new slogan: “Avvo: We’re worse than used car dealers at harassing you.”

And that lead I logged in for? It was a goddamn scammer. They’re all goddamn scammers. Every fucking lead that has come to me through Avvo has been some fucking scammer who say that I do business law and now wants me to help them “organize a purchase” from some overseas company. All of them. I have never gotten a real fucking lead from Avvo. But hey, the people who are asking for free legal advice online aren’t exactly likely to want to pay a real lawyer for help now are they?

Oh yeah, and they hold your damn profile hostage. See, if you have a profile on Avvo, it will literally display the profiles of other attorneys right there with your information! How do you get rid of that? Well, you pay them to become a “Pro Member” of Avvo. Otherwise they’ll try their damndest to send folks to another attorney.

Let’s not forget that while Avvo ostensibly tries to “rate” attorneys so people can search by a rating level, the rating isn’t done by our clients. The rating is done by Avvo’s strange little process. Nobody’s exactly sure how it’s calculated outside of the dark wizards at Avvo, but you can bet your ass they’ve learned how to game it. No shit, there’s an entire reddit community that focuses on just gaming the Avvo rating system to get you as close to a perfect 10 as you can possibly be. But you better keep logging in, because if you don’t that rating decays over time! Forced participation for the motherfucking win!

But remember, when you log in their sales team calls to sell you shit! So to keep your rating, you’re either going to buy their fucking advertising space, or you’re gonna huddle under your desk as the marketers of Avvo surround your office like commissioned zombies daily. Your choice, dipshit!

And still the phone keeps fucking ringing.

It’s like the Tale Tell Heart, but with a goddamn attorney advertising site. Which is goddamn infuriating because, believe it or not, I have shit to do during my day other than talking to Avvo!

I just don’t fucking like Avvo. I don’t like the “or else” method of recruiting attorneys by creating a listing for them and then making damn sure you have to claim it or be a schmuck. I don’t like the unknowable rating system that they have designed. I don’t like the “labor camp” feel of having to participate to maintain your rating on a regular basis. I especially don’t like motherfucking Christian, my area’s Avvo rep, who has “a limited number of spaces for X type of law in my area at only $XXX per month!”

I really don’t like Christian.

I’m gonna find out where Christian lives, then when he sits down for dinner burst in the door screaming about discount rates for wills and shit. I bet it’ll scar his kids.

But that shit doesn’t matter anymore.

Nothing matters anymore.

Because I’m gonna buy a goddamn ad on Avvo so Christian will stop calling. I just can’t fucking take it anymore.

-BB