In a list of pros and cons, the permanence of the internet is arguably one of its most loved and loathed traits. It can be nearly impossible to take back anything once published, and social networking sites are often tangled in a web of profiles that go on despite our mortality. The Facebook pages of deceased members, for example, sometimes serve as memorials for those who have passed. Legal service site Avvo faced a similar issue when it launched in 2007.
Days after Mark Britton founded the company, which uses a proprietary algorithm to rank lawyers on a number scale, he was hit with a lawsuit. The argument, at its core, was that the information Avvo provided was deceptive, as it rated a dead and disbarred lawyer significantly higher than one once praised as super. However imperfect the system, Avvo eventually won the case, arguing that the ratings were simply opinions and were therefore protected under the First Amendment right to free speech.
Regardless of whether the lawyer for Avvo earned a 10 or not for defending them in court, the company has proven its value. Over the course of almost 10 years, the site has added a number of legal services to its ranks. In addition to an attorney directory, users can also seek low-cost legal advice, pose their own legal questions or search a well-established forum supported by thousands of ranked and participating lawyers.
Why is it called Avvo?
All this from an idea Britton, who formerly served as legal counsel for Expedia, had while on vacation in Italy. Despite his attempt to get away, his friends and colleagues continued to solicit his legal advice from across the globe. The inquiries eventually inspired him to create a site listing more available lawyers. A nod to its origin, Britton named the company after the Italian word for lawyer: avvocato, or Avvo for short. Pronounced /Ah · voh/ as described by their about page, the site is designed to make it easier for anyone to find legal advice – wherever they are.
The company seems to be succeeding in its mission. After launching Avvo Legal Services, a series of small-scale, fixed-fee services in five major U.S. cities, Avvo continues to increase its capabilities. This year the company also added free legal guides, a “selection of no-cost, high-quality legal forms for family, business, estate planning and real estate,” to its arsenal. Each of these services comes as cavalry to Avvo Advisor, their premiere service offering 15 minutes of over-the-phone legal advice for a flat $39 fee, and Avvo Pro, a $49 monthly subscription that enables members to remove ads.
At that rate, there’s certainly no shortage of necessity for the services Avvo provides. In the ABA Journal, Avvo claimed as much as “forty-two percent of consumers who try to handle their own legal affairs end up consulting an attorney for a solution to their legal problem.” The large number of prospective clients provides the perfect platform for the marketplace to generate revenue by selling its legal services to those seeking consultation while also selling advertising space to the lawyers offering assistance.
As it stands, Avvo’s model makes it easy to connect individuals with lawyers – even if they’re on vacation.
Thanks for reading Why is Avvo called Avvo! Have you used any of Avvo’s services? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below! #whyisitcalledAvvo
Annelise Schoups is a contributor at Rewind & Capture. With a degree in journalism, experience in public relations, and an education in travel, she is passionate about cultivating knowledge and storytelling.