How Not to Find Clients: Avvo.com

Avvo -

"Give legal advice in areas of law that you don't know, in jurisdictions where you don't practice, for FREE! Get points! Look important!"

Received an interesting email in my inbox this morning: a response to my answer to someone’s Avvo question.

I occasionally answer a question or two in Pennsylvania when I feel that I might actually be able to point a person in the right direction, usually something like giving them the number to the local bar referral service, telling them where to go to file a PFA, or recommending that they may want to hire an attorney than ask for free advice on the internet.

Understand that I have no idea what answer this was sent in response to. All grammar and spelling left intact.

Dear Leo M Mulvihill Jr

Like the other guy….
you didnt actually answer the question!!!
but the typical lawyer is really good at being shart and uselsss!

You just responded in the typical zero sum game, knee jerk response
that has become a lawyers cliche

I dont have the time an energy to point out all the things wrong with your response including you ill informed understanding of the situation
Obviously you are not here to help anyone but yourself.
Way to go!!!!

Now that i have returned the favor of being dismissive and
contemptuous ( see how that feels) i can move forward

My point being…. All lawyers are taught not to ask (or anwer) any questions without know the answer first. Did you miss that day in lawschool also!!??!?!!? Why do you guys insist on doing that???
Did it ever occur to you for just a nano second, that I was writing based on speaking with firms on the phone and getting the typical lame ass response that is typical in both the legal and medical community. BTW after 1 in 20 i am getting to the right parties
with three or 4 good matches who are willing to proceed at the state
or federal level

I am a scientist. Scientists as a group deal in the raw data.
Not some lame attempt to spastically guess in some pointless need to gratify our egos!!!!

Now if you have something usefull to add so that the scam artist and thieves actually have battery backup lighting in the stairways
then respond

if not lets save the bits and bytes, so i can do something productive
like stop these people from being documented theives

Vexed

A client with a personality like this – I bet attorneys are lined up around the block to take his case. Why do I even bother to answer questions?

Note: I have been answering questions on Avvo.com since I was admitted. I used to think it was a helpful way to grow exposure and get client leads. All I’ve gotten so far is vindictive diatribes in emails and people calling me from another jurisdiction asking me for free legal advice. I think it’s time I gave up on Avvo.

9 Responses to How Not to Find Clients: Avvo.com

  1. Mark Britton says:

    Dear Leo – There’s a bit of irony here. You complain that you try to do something nice for someone – in fact you do it for *free* — and they flame you for it. I feel your pain because you are doing the same thing to Avvo.

    We provide a *free* platform where any lawyer can come in and answer questions to their hearts desire. Most do it to generate clients, and generate clients they do. Our record to date is 150 *clients* generated by a divorce lawyer in Tacoma, Washington by answering questions on Avvo. Through our Q&A and otherwise, Avvo sends out over 175,000 contacts to lawyers every *month*. No one is generating that kind of business for lawyers.

    While our platform has not worked as well for you, to write a blog post entitled, “How Not to Find Clients: Avvo.com” is simply bad form. Considering the facts, I would argue even worse form than flame email of which your blog post complains.

    Mark Britton
    CEO, Avvo
    (www.avvo.com)

  2. I’ve just recently started answering questions on AVVO. It’s a platform that encourages off-the-cuff answers. It’s also addictive, like Jeopardy. I try to give solid answers to those questions in my jurisdiction that I feel competent to answer. On the one hand, I would love it if it lead to engagements with clients and built up my reputation among lawyers in my jurisdiction so I might get a referral or two. On the other hand, it is hard to judge just how much time to put into it to find a sweet spot. I try not to put all of my marketing efforts into one basket. But I’m willing to give it some time to see if it is worthwhile.

    • Leo M. Mulvihill, Jr. says:

      As you can see, Avvo wasn’t so pleased with this post. I’ve started playing vigilante on Avvo and diming out attorneys who answer with irrelevant or out-of-jurisdiction replies. Needless to say, I am not making friends.

  3. Frank says:

    Never give up on a good deed. There will always be people who are unhappy with the way you live your life. Most people want something for nothing & the complain about the free service… Go figure. You keep doing what your going & keep helping people like me with answers & finding a good business attorney for my company.

  4. Louis123nj says:

    Give free advice. Build Avvo site credibility. Avvo charges for advertisers. Lawyers get nothing.

  5. One thing I puzzle over is why an attorney would ever get on avvo to preach at a potential client or essentially tell them that they are stupid or that they don’t know how to ask a question, etc. etc. I always enjoy these egotistical attorneys responses because it is so clear they have no idea what they are doing or at least no interest in gaining clients. I find that when I am nice and non-condescending to non-lawyers they tend to like me and feel I might be a good listener and easy to work with and they want to hire me. I have gotten quite a few clients (10-20) from avvo over the last couple of years.

    I also think it is ridiculous when people jump on from other jurisdictions and provide misinformation. The whole point of going on avvo is to tell people just enough about their question that they realize that you are the expert and that they need an attorney. Voila! you have just sold a client on calling you. It is very possible to subtly lead a questioner to contact and hire you without open solicitation. That never happens when you sound like your goal is to point out to potential clients all the omitted facts, assumptions or other logical failures in their question. They aren’t there to be schooled on their grammar, punctuation, thoroughness or accurateness. They are looking for someone who is willing to reach in and try to guide them to answers.

    Anyway. I do completely agree that I would steer clear of the potential client who wrote the response above. Seems to lack humility and ability to take advice which is a bad recipe when you are asking for advice.

  6. denbenenki says:

    From reading the comments, I get the hint there is some sort of restriction on attorneys who give free advice on the internet. I dare say there are many genuine potential clients wandering these boards. For those looking for free advice, what are their possible reasons? 1. The person intends to go to court without an attorney. This person may not have much of a case, nothing substantial that an attorney should feel they are giving away too much for free. 2. The person actually has a semi complex case worthy of attorney fees. This person is most likely going to hire an attorney—or—hired an attorney and either lost him or is undecided whether to stay with the attorney. Either the client and attorney are bickering over strategy—or—the attorney is ineffective. 3. The person is pro se and really needs help. One might be able to tell if the case is limited or unlimited. If it is unlimited, then there is money for an attorney. If you are in his area, there is a great chance he would like to pay you for further help. 4. The person will likely use the $39 calling offer at Avvo. Ontheotherhand, what are the reasons attorneys freely answer questions here? First of, I am not sure every Law Q and A site has true attorneys answering, but for those that do, I guess, as the comments say, attorneys are looking for clients. I suspect most attorneys have a special range of client they look for. Yet, when you find one they likely are not in your area. I am persuaded by the comment of one who stated it was sort of a game for him. The urge to answer the teacher’s question, is how I relate that type of state of mind. Surely there are other types only familiar to other attorneys. I wonder how often is this a frustration release—to be rude—or to be real. It isn’t rude when the ___’s (whatever we are called) question is a classic no-brainer—or it is rude, but unanimously approved exception. The surprising thing about attorneys – and Judges, is that none of you seem to acknowledge the intense HATRED (Yes, caps) most—or everyone of you have for self-represented litigants. I can honestly tell you I have asked at least 100 questions and only 2 or 3 questions were answered with information I could actually use. Many answers were way off. Some seeming deliberately. I think maybe 2 were never answered. I still wonder if that is good or bad? Many answers are so off the subject from the question, I can say I relate to the Asker’s reply to this attorney (which is the subject of these comments). To me, it sounds as if the attorney assumed the Asker was lying or gravely mistaken (“The Judge would not do that, you probably… “) To suggest the Asker hire an attorney is the worst. That answer—alone—without any other advice, is painful. This is long, yet, I hope you allow it as we need to express ourselves. We do need your help and there are enough of us willing to pay. We need assurance your service is genuine. We need either for you to tell us how we can win or why we will lose. Lastly, I suggest, if the client (or Asker) seems to argue or contest your answer, ask him to resubmit the question. I add, that, we (Askers) may have so much to tell, that space does not allow. Therefore, we might say something without sufficiently explaining the details. IN THESE INSTANCES, PLEASE, JUST ASSUME IT IS TRUE… then answer. If your reply is that we are lying, then if we act upon your reply, we will suffer—be assured. If you truly intend to help, state your suspicion and invite the Asker to respond. We really do not expect to tell you so much—as we are asking for free advice. Maybe you cannot ask us to respond. Please respond here. I would like to hear what any of you have to say and I am sure many others will benefit from it all. Thank you.

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