A class action lawsuit was filed last week in Seattle, Washington against an internet lawyer rating service named avvo.com. The lawsuit claims that the service provides a misleading and inaccurate assessment of lawyers’ abilities, and is in violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. According to the lawsuit, the website gave two Supreme Court justices the same rating as an attorney who was convicted for conspiracy to defraud the government.
According to the lawsuit, a Bellevue, Washington lawyer listed an award with Avvo he won last year for playing softball, which caused his rating to rise. Obviously, this award is unrelated to the lawyer’s ability to practice law.
I have mixed feelings on Avvo, which has yet to begin rating Maryland lawyers. On one hand, I think many consumers, particularly unsophisticated consumers, need some assistance to make their decisions. These consumers need particular protection from lawyers who pretend to be personal injury lawyers but have never come close to trying a personal injury case before a jury. The problem is, however, that it is impossible to conjure up an objective formula to rate lawyers. This difficulty was clearly underscored by the lawyer whose rating increased by his ability on the softball field.