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June 14, 2007

Avvo gets sued

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 2:39 PM

An attorney has filed a class action suit against Seattle-based Avvo, a startup that ranks attorneys on a scale of one to 10.

The lawsuit, filed on the behalf of other attorneys nationwide, claims that "the site is unfair and highly deceptive."

Steve Berman, the managing partner of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Seattle. He alleges that the site violates unfair methods of competition and deceptive acts in the conduct of commerce as stated in the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

Berman has a rating of 9.2.

"When the site launched, they had a very slick media campaign that led consumers to believe the site would give them accurate and insightful information about attorneys," said Berman in a press release. "In reality, we believe the site's rating methodology is prone to error and wide open to manipulation."

Avvo launched on June 5. In this story, company execs said their ratings take into account a number of factors, but wouldn't disclose much detail.

Mark Britton, founder and former Expedia general counsel, addresses some of the concerns in a comment on this blog post.

UPDATE: Mark Britton posted a blog item on Avvo's site today addressing the rating system and how an attorney can get extra points for even winning softball awards, or the 4th grade spelling bee. The short answer is that it is a temporary spike until an Avvo employee checks to see if the award is legitimate, and takes any associated points away that the attorney may have unfairly got credit for.

UPDATE 2: Here's today's story on the lawsuit, which adds comments from Berman. Here's a link to the complaint.

We are getting a lot of feedback on the story. What do you think about ranking lawyers?

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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