I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a fan of Avvo.com, which launched back in 2007. Though now Avvo has plenty of copycats, when it launched, it was the first service to provide a robust online profile to lawyers for free. Avvo’s generated quite a bit of controversy amongst lawyers, with many like this fellow or the DC Bar wishing that it would go away. Other bars, like South Carolina are trying to needlessly complicate lawyers’ participation in these sites, with a recent ruling making lawyers responsible for ethically compliant profiles. As Gabriel Miller at Sokolove Success points out, the decision leaves many questions unanswered such as how frequently a lawyer must monitor a site (often client testimonials are posted without notice) or what a lawyer can do where a site limits control over client postings.
Seems to me that the Bar may be trying to deter lawyers from using these sites in the hopes that they’ll go away. But the truth of the matter is that clients are free to post about lawyers everywhere – on profiles, on independent websites – and there’s nothing the bar can do to stop it. The South Carolina decision is useful to the extent that it offers suggestions on ways that lawyers can craft a client survey to elicit ethically compliant testimonials. But other than that, the decision causes more confusion that clarification — making it garbage in the words of My Law License blogger and ethics expert (oops – does he have to make me delete that? I called him an expert) Brian Tannenbaum.
In any event, I look forward to discussing all of these issues and more at Avvo’s upcoming Mid Atlantic Tour November 10 (in DC) and November 11 (Baltimore). Hope to meet you there.