I haven't written much about Avvo, a well-known purveyor of lawyer & client referrals and fora for questionable online legal advice. I've mentioned the terrible legal marketing advice on their blog, but it's Scott Greenfield who has long been owning the subject, discussing both Avvo's questionable referral services and their unreliable free-bad-advice free-for-all.
This weekend I got spam from Avvo illustrating their business model.
If you're looking for new clients, Avvo's Legal Marketplace is where to find them. A prospective client just posted their traffic ticket case details and is ready to hire an attorney. Review the case details and, if interested, submit your proposal:
"Lots of tickets because I can't pay my car's registration. They have given me one every day. Can't pay the registration until I pay the tickets! Have nowhere to get it off the street. Can I just take a car cover and cover it, or can they look under?"
This case has been sent to: 95 attorneys in the Los Angeles area
This case closes on: July 03, 2013 at 03:07PM
There are two possibilities here. One is that someone at Avvo made a conscious decision to feature, as a prospective client to entice me to Avvo's referral service, someone whose problem is they can't afford to register their car. Under this scenario, someone at Avvo consciously (sort of) thinks I want to compete with 95 other attorneys for a client who has no money, on a matter that will not generate money by definition. Avvo's selection of this matter is supposed to impress me about their acumen and value.
The second possibility is that Avvo has set up some sort of auto-spam system that selects potential cases at random to include in solicitations, not recognizing that the random selection will generate "leads" like this one. Once again, I am supposed to be impressed with Avvo and decide to use them to get quality cases.
Who the blue fuck responds to something like this? Who would want to be associated with a business that thinks this is attractive or persuasive?
More importantly: who advises the folks who are posting about their potential cases on Avvo? This "case referral" is relatively benign. But it would be easy for someone talking about a case — criminal or civil — to reveal details that would be harmful to their interests. Do they understand that posting to Avvo is not privileged, and that what they post can be seen by hundreds or thousands, and emailed to more, and possibly used to their detriment?
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