Thursday, June 7, 2007

From letters to numbers?

When I was a young lawyer, we didn't have easy web access to computerized directories of lawyers. If we wanted to find a lawyer in another city, we consulted a huge, multi-volume tome called Martindale-Hubbell. (They are also on the web now at Martindale always tried to distinguish itself from other legal directories by purporting to rate lawyers by ability (A for very high to preeminent, B for high to very high, and C for good to high) and general ethical standards (V - you either are very high or nothing). Supposedly, if you were an "AV" rated lawyer then you were part of the creme de la creme. (Disclosure note: my firm is AV rated, although I certainly don't tout that credential to my clients or to prospects.)

Now there is a new, much-ballyhooed site opening on the web: Avvo will purport to rate attorneys on a 1 to 10 scale based on credentials, experience, disciplinary history, and client recommendations. Larry Bodine has a good post on the whole concept here.

I went to the site the other day when it rolled out. It is slick, well-designed and easy for the public to access. (My base rating: 6.1, I think.) But I'm not thrilled about becoming a member (even for free) or trying to improve my rating, which I'm sure would happen if I registered and gave them my credentials, etc. Maybe the client rating thing could be useful, but I am in a niche practice area, and I can see a potential for abuse, both positive and negative. At the end of the day, I am more than a number, just as I am more than a Martindale-Hubbell letter. Judge me by my work and by what my clients say about me.