Questions & Answers from the Avvo Website
This page includes my answers to Massachusetts divorce and family law questions that were posted by people on the Avvo website. Avvo includes a forum where attorneys provide brief answers at no cost. From time to time, I will answer a question on Avvo, and you will see a feed of the questions and answers below.
The answers should not be viewed as specific legal advice however due to the limited information available in the questions.
Do you have your own questions?
Your best move is to schedule a confidential consultation if you have questions about a legal matter. Yes, you can post a question on Avvo, but it will be of limited help. When meeting with a client, it is the dialogue between us that is most helpful. Our ability to develop information cannot be replaced by a short question and a short answer. You should also be aware that attorneys not licensed in Massachusetts may answer questions about Massachusetts legal issues. Oftentimes, answers are very generic, for the same reasons as mentioned above – we just don't know the whole story in a forum such as this.
Avvo – Pros and Cons
Avvo, although generally a helpful website, makes money through lawyer advertising. This is not a bad thing, but it helps to understand how Avvo functions. Lawyers are assigned ratings by Avvo, using some algorithm that does not seem to make much sense sometimes. Lawyers answer questions in order to elevate their ranking and ratings, which adds more content for Avvo, which of course is provided for free by lawyers answering the questions. Avvo is a powerful player in the legal world these days, and they are rolling out some interesting features.
Needless to say, you should not select your attorney based upon any single factor, and I know some excellent lawyers that have not embraced Avvo or worked on their own profile, thus displaying lower ratings; and others I would never recommend that have high scores.
Avvo also allows people to rate lawyers, and for lawyers to provide each other with peer reviews. Unfortunately, both of these options are prone to manipulation – both by clients, others posing as clients, and attorneys. Some lawyers try to inflate their peer reviews by obtaining endorsements from lawyers that they don't even know. A great example of this is displayed by a local area attorney that has close to 1,000 peer ratings. Most of the lawyers are from outside of Massachusetts, and include comments like this:
“Attorney (name removed) is a significant contributor on the AVVO forum and consistently gives informative and thoughtful advice. I endorse this lawyer.” – Lawyer from California (name omitted).
Interestingly, the California lawyer is endorsed by the Massachusetts lawyer. It is extremely unlikely that the Massachusetts attorney has ever met most of the people that are endorsing him. I think this is a little sketchy, but Avvo does not police such things, nor should they really have to as lawyers are supposed to basically self-police themselves, and as a profession we generally do a good job at it.
When it comes to recommendations, look for lawyers that have endorsements from other local lawyers that also have good reputations – not people trying to game the system. Avvo provides the platform, it is not their fault that some lawyers are willing to manipulate it for their own benefit. That being said, Avvo profiles may provide some additional information to those seeking legal information or searching for legal representation, but do not place all of your eggs in the Avvo basket – or any basket – when making decisions or searching for the the Massachusetts divorce mediator or Massachusetts divorce lawyer that is right for you.
Remember, nothing replaces a consultation when you need solid information and advice.
Stephen McDonough is an experienced Walpole divorce lawyer and mediator. His firm, Next Phase Legal LLC, is located in nearby Medfield, Massachusetts. To learn more or schedule your own informative consultation, please call (508) 359-4043.