If you are a licensed attorney, then you have an Avvo profile. Whether you like it or not, your profile is there for all to see. You do not have a choice, or rather, the choice has already been made for you. Nothing you can do, aside from abandoning your license, can remove your Avvo profile.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, however. Think about it. When was the last time you purchased a car or tried out a new restaurant without first reading reviews? If you were comparing two TVs online, for example, and one had 50 reviews and the other had no reviews, you would probably buy the TV that had been reviewed. What makes legal services any different? In the mind of a consumer, not much.
Avvo is another avenue in which you can position your brand in front of new clients, but it also allows former clients to rate your services. While you cannot opt out of the website, or control who posts reviews on your profile, you can manage it. And just like businesses use Yelp to attract new customers, you can use Avvo to effectively market your practice to prospective clients.
To make Avvo work for you, you have to first claim your profile.
Daniel Petrocelli does not have a rating on Avvo. He does not a profile photo. There is very little information about the type of law he practices. There are zero reviews and zero attorney endorsements. From the perspective of a potential client, Petrocelli looks suspicious. Why would a client hire Petrocelli, who has no ratings, when there are other lawyers in Los Angeles with a rating of seven or higher?
You would not know it by looking at Petrocelli’s Avvo profile, but Petrocelli is one of the top lawyers in America. He has represented O.J. Simpson, Donald Trump and professional boxer Manny Pacquiao. He even has his own Wikipedia page.
There are thousands of amazing practicing lawyers who, like Petrocelli, have not claimed their Avvo profile. Unfortunately, many of those lawyers do not have the benefit of a 35-year reputation, national media attention and a dedicated Wikipedia page.
If you are one of the many lawyers that have not claimed their Avvo profiles, you should consider doing so. Your Avvo profile may be one of the top results when potential clients Google your name. If there is nothing there, those potential clients may move on to another lawyer with a robust profile and good reviews.
The Avvo rating is used to evaluate a lawyer’s professional background, helping potential clients make quick and informed decisions. Ratings fall between 1, Extreme Caution, to 10, or Superb. The rating is based solely on information that is included on the lawyer’s public profile and information collected from public sources. The Avvo ratings are based on several factors, like experience, that Avvo believes clients would consider important when hiring an attorney.
What do the numerical ratings mean? Here is a list of each rating and their numerical value:
10.0 - 9.0 Superb
8.9 - 8.0 Excellent
7.9 - 7.0 Very Good
6.9 - 6.0 Good
5.9 - 5.0 Average
4.9 - 4.0 Concern
3.9 - 3.0 Caution
2.9 - 2.0 Strong Caution
1.9 - 1.0 Extreme Caution
When it comes to your rating, there are a few factors out of your control. Ratings are generated using a mathematical model, and all lawyers are rated by the same standards. For example, less experienced attorneys may have a lower rating than more experienced attorneys. However, there are a number of things you can do to boost your numbers.
If you haven’t claimed your profile yet, you may not have a numerical rating. Instead, you may see “Attention” or “No concern.” The word “Attention” is given when public records indicate there is disciplinary action that potential clients should be aware of. Otherwise, “No Concern” is given.
Getting a good rating on Avvo is not as difficult as it seems. Barring any disciplinary actions by your state’s bar association, you should be able to build up a respectable profile within minutes. Remember, Avvo ratings are based largely on the information attorneys provide in their profiles. If you do not provide information, then your rating will remain low.
To get started, you need to find your Avvo profile. It will likely include your full name, your location and the number of years you have been licensed. Once you have located your profile, you can “Claim your profile.”
After you claim your profile, you will need to add to the public information Avvo already has on file. Here are five things you can do today to boost your Avvo profile:
1. Add a professional headshot
2. Provide your contact information and allow potential clients to send direct messages
3. Create a short professional bio
4. Give details about the areas of law you practice
5. Get reviews and attorney endorsements
Within hours, you may see your Avvo rating go from the ambiguous “No Concern” to “Very Good.”
Getting your first Avvo review is not as difficult as it seems. Anyone can write a review for you, even a friend. But the best and most convincing reviews will come from your former clients. If you have a few clients that you have either worked for in the past or work with regularly, let them know you would appreciate their feedback for you new Avvo profile.
If you can’t find a former client, try reaching out to a colleague, a mentor or even opposing counsel. Pretty much anyone who has interacted with you on a professional level can potentially help you with your first few Avvo reviews.
In addition to reviews, lawyers can endorse each other. Reach out to a few of your former classmates and exchange positive endorsements.
Avvo can be a great marketing tool for lawyers, but it is not without disadvantages. Much like Yelp, attorneys cannot prevent a disgruntled client from leaving a negative review. A one star review is available for everyone to see, just as a five star review is.
If a Negative review has been left on your Avvo profile, there are a few things you can do.
At the end of each review, there is a link that will allow you to post a response. Your response will be displayed right below the original negative review. The goal is to diffuse the bad review. Often the most effective response is a simple comment acknowledging the review. Responding to bad reviews sends a message that you are interested in your clients’’ feedback and that you are willing to rectify the situation.
Avvo suggests a response such as:
"We're sorry you had a bad experience with our firm. This matter does not sound familiar, and we strive for the utmost client satisfaction in every case. Please contact me directly to discuss your specific concerns."
The last thing you want to do, however, is spur an ongoing disagreement with the reviewer. Defensive comments may only make the situation worse, causing more reputational damage to your Avvo profile. The best course of action is to acknowledge the review and move on.
If a review did not come from an actual or potential client of yours, Avvo will contact the reviewer and ask them to confirm whether or not they were your client. The reviewer will have the option to edit or delete the review. Note, Avvo will not confirm or verify the truthfulness of the information left in reviews. During the dispute, the review will not appear on your Avvo profile. If the reviewer confirms the review, it will be reposted on your profile.
Reviewers always have the option of editing or removing their original review. So, if you are able to provide a positive response to a negative review, the reviewer may be inclined to eliminate the review altogether.
Potential clients are smart consumers. They do their research and look for the best value when buying goods and services, and you can expect them to do the same when looking for a lawyer. Claiming your Avvo profile is just one step you can take today to provide the information these potential clients are looking for.