When we wrote recently about the lawyer rating website Avvo, and what it means for a law firm’s practice, one of the follow-up questions we heard repeatedly was, “Do client reviews affect my Avvo rating?”
It’s a logical question. An Avvo profile includes space for client reviews and ratings, and even has a feature whereby attorneys can email clients to request that they submit a review. If the website goes to such lengths to encourage client input, it would seem to follow that that input would affect an attorney’s numerical rating.
According to Avvo, however, client reviews do not affect an attorney’s rating.
As we previously discussed, Avvo uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate a numerical rating for an attorney on a scale of 1 to 10. The formula takes into account the professional information that an attorney has entered into his or her Avvo profile, including career history, scholarly writings, speaking engagements and industry-specific memberships and awards. Each of these types of information in the profile contributes to an attorney’s overall rating.
Reviews from other attorneys do boost a lawyer’s rating. Those from clients do not. Avvo says: “Peer endorsements do affect your Avvo Rating, though client reviews do not. This is because peer endorsements – one lawyer endorsing another’s skills and experience – are a way to assess industry recognition, which is a factor in how we calculate an attorney’s Avvo Rating. Client reviews do play a very important role for people looking to hire an attorney, but we have chosen to not include that information when calculating the Avvo Rating.”
That doesn’t mean that attorneys should ignore client reviews. Particularly for lawyers in some consumer-facing practices, such as family law, reviews from past clients can influence a potential client’s choice of attorney. Avvo’s client rating is a way for an average consumer to rate how they feel their attorney handled their case. And consumers seeking an attorney often consider input from previous clients to help them decide which attorneys to approach regarding a similar legal issue.
As with any rating a consumer gives to a service or product online – think Amazon, eBay, or TripAdvisor – a client review can be superb or not so superb. Avvo’s client ratings are displayed as stars on the attorney’s profile page, with five stars being the highest and one star being the lowest.
So what is Furia Rubel’s advice regarding Avvo client ratings? We do advise lawyers to claim their Avvo profiles and fill them out as completely as possible in order to boost their rating. (Avvo invests heavily in marketing and Avvo profiles tend to appear high in search engine results.) For attorneys who work primarily in-house or who deal with corporations, municipalities or other entities, soliciting client reviews may not be worth an investment of effort. For lawyers who work directly with the public, however, positive client reviews can help influence a consumer’s buying decision, and seeking them out may be worth the time and effort, regardless of their lack of influence on Avvo’s overall lawyer rating.