• May 15, 2013

If Avvo were stock and if you owned it and if I were your financial advisor, I would be screaming at you to dump that stock.  I would let you go as a client if you did not take my advice.

In my view, Avvo and many similar on-line lawyer referral services are 21-century “runners.”  (A “runner” is an old term for a non-lawyer working on behalf of lawyers to solicit clients in ways that are prohibited by ethics rules for the lawyers themselves.  (Eric Turkewitz nails it here.))

Why am I so bearish on Avvo in particular?  Do I have inside knowledge of the business’ EBITDA, its business model, cash flow, etc.?  Is it out of some kind of moral indignation similar to divesting in Apartheid-related stocks?

No.  I have no knowledge at all about Avvo’s finances.  As to moral condemnation, there is so much more to be outraged about than dubious lawyer marketing that, frankly, I think that is infinitesimally insignificant on the continuum of outrage.

Here’s why I suggest dumping Avvo.

I received some Avvo marketing this past week, an email, with the subject line: “Webinar: Are You Socially Awkward? Social Media and Ethics Rules (1 hr CLE).”

I am no marketing genius but, really?  Really???

I know that many goods and services are sold to consumers based on a premise that the targeted consumers are somehow deficient (most obviously weight, baldness, other follicular folly (hair too dry? too oily?)).  But marketers emphasize the upside in appealing to the heavy, the bald, or other afflicted consumers.  They do not market directly to self-hatred.  They say things like, “Want to lose 20 lbs. just like that?” or “More confidence.  More romance. Experience more [hair].”  (That is a real pitch from the HAIR CLUB.)  (Avvo marketing department: Note that it is not called THE BALD CLUB.)

So now watch.  Avvo will continue on a trajectory of tremendous success.  For all I know, it will become an enormous power in U.S. legal marketing and then I will need to eat crow.

I hope I will at least keep my Avvo “excellent” rating…

Seth Leventhal has been a Minnesota commercial and business trial lawyer since 1996.  For an awful lot of relatively small litigation, people and businesses do not need to hire a whole law firm.  They need to hire one good lawyer.  You should hire the best you can find.  If you are being sued or believe that you have a claim and that you should bring suit in Minnesota, call 612-234-7349 for a free consultation.

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