The latest commercial rating system AVVO has caused considerable comment and controversy. A Seattle lawyer has threatened to sue them over his low rating and the newspapers have been running articles about the reaction of lawyers and othersto the site. Comments on this blog about thesite reflect the reaction ofpeople generally. So, how accurate is the the rating system and does it serve a useful purpose?
As to the accuracy, lawyers have already found ways of raising the assigned score and manipulating their ratings through various devices including asking clients to rate them, altering the profile through additions and revisions and the like. While provisions to revise make sense, if the manipulation creates an artificial raising of scores, it raises doubts as to the site’s accuracy. Complaints that high profile national lawyers like David Bois have been given low scores while inexperienced lawyers without a record of success have been given high scores have beens voiced as well, which also questions the accuracy of the site.Complaints that lawyers who have been selected by a survey of over 13,000 fellow lawyers as one of the toptrial lawyers in the state were given low scores by this rating service bring up the issue of the importance of fellow lawyer evaluations. As I previously observed, any system which ignores results of trials and settlements as well as the findings ofother rating servicesissubject to substantial error. Theevaluations are only as good as the information it is based upon. I think this rating service isa good start, but it needs improvement if it is going to be reasonably accurate.
As to it’s benefit, as one comment to this blog noted, it is better then relying upon the yellow pages and I agree with that. But, I would recommend not relying upon this flawed system as the sole criteria to use in selecting a quality trial lawyer. I would factor in at least some of these as well: (1) ratings given by fellow lawyers in surveys (2) membership in invitational only legal organizations such as the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, American College and for plaintiff lawyers, The Inner Circle of Advocates plus other similar invitational groups that screen admit tees (3) their success as reported in Jury Verdicts Northwest or other publications (4) settlement and trial results generally and (5) experience in the particular area involved and (6) the opinions of judges, opponents and fellow trial lawyers. Even this procedure is not totally accurate because some very talented and skillful lawyers would not be included on the list of invitational organizations and would otherwise not surface using these factors, but at least it is an additional screening process.
None of the rating services are entirely accurate, but I agree they serve a useful purpose provided no one service is exclusively relied upon. It is also essential there are provisions built infor revising and improving the system and guards against inaccurate manipulation. Were it not for the fact clients use these systems, I don’t suppose they are all that important overall, but they do attract the attention of the lawyers being rated.