Lawyer Ranking Site Avvo Sued By Another Upset Lawyer

from the and-avvo-hits-back dept

We've seen plenty of stories of review or ranking sites that get sued by people upset about their reviews, but one such site that seems to get extra special attention is Avvo -- and that's because it's a ranking and review site for lawyers. Soon after the site was launched a few years back, it was sued -- leading a judge to dismiss the suit, pointing out that rankings are opinions and opinions are protected by that old First Amendment thing. However, it appears another lawyer is suing the site, claiming libel among other things.

Avvo hit back in a blog post highlighting some history that the lawyer in question, Joe Davis, probably doesn't want to generate any more attention (such as being "twice convicted and spent eight days in the pokey") and suggesting that it's the desire to hide this info that is the real reason behind the lawsuit.

So, how does Davis try to get around the whole "opinion/free speech" thing? Well, he tries to find some factual errors in his profile -- such as the page claiming that he practices "100% employment/labor law," which is apparently not the case. That said, it's difficult to see how such an error amounts to libel. Also, apparently Avvo has the wrong address, which Davis suggests is a "misrepresentation." He also claims that Avvo's "failure to take into account" Davis' Board Certification (which is mentioned over and over and over and over again in the complaint as if that, alone, conquers all) is a "misrepresentation" as well.

From there, Davis suggests that various fluctuations he saw in his ratings over a period of a few days "obviously occurred based solely" on his "level of participation" on the site, rather than "what is in the public record." Davis also gets upset that his profile points people to other, competing lawyers, and claims that Google forbids a similar practice. Unfortunately, I believe Davis is simply wrong on this point:
Google's AdWords' policies prohibit AdWords users from doing the very same thing that Avvo.com does--that is, to hijack a competitor's name as a key search word to trigger the appearance of a competitor's ad next to the competitor's search results.
But Google actually does allow that and has fought an awful lot of lawsuits that it's usually won, saying that such a practice is perfectly legal. In fact, Google just recently changed its European policy to have it match the US policy in allowing greater use of trademarked terms in AdWords.

There's also a suggestion that by using Davis' photo from his own website, Avvo may have violated copyright and local Florida statutes on using images of lawyers. The full complaint is a bit rambling, and at times rather informal, which makes for some fun reading, but seems like the sort of thing that a judge might not appreciate:


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 4:52am

    What does Google's AdWords' policies have to do with what Avvo.com does. is Avvo.com owned by Google... is the rest of the world now under Google's AdWords' policies for some reason?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 5:39am

    If the guy had any merit or skill he wouldn't be concerned about what a random website claims about him. The fact that he keeps yapping about his credentials screams "I have a law degree, I am more important than u!!111".

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 6:47am

    Re:

    Seems to me that this also highlights his own insecurities about his abilities.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Normally I think these Avvo suits are meritless, but this guy claims that Avvo intentionally publishes false and misleading information in order to coerce lawyer participation. In that sense, his allegations are somewhat different from the usual 'I-don't-like-my-Avvo-rating' cases. (But are Davis's allegations true? Who knows. I have my doubts.)

    I agree with the first AC that it is curious that Davis seems to think Google's AdWords policy somehow creates a de facto rule as to what is appropriate. And in any event, he's mis-stating their policy, since Google does in fact permit nominative uses.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 7:05am

    How would being "twice convicted and spent eight days in the pokey" be a problem for a lawyer? Aren't they required to sell their souls prior to passing the bar anyway? So what's a couple of convictions and jail time...I think it adds credibility.

     

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  6.  
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    gyffes, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 7:18am

    "That's why you're the judge...

    and I'm the law-talkin' guy!"


    *sigh*

    I really miss Phil Hartman.

     

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  7.  
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    Paul Alan Levy (profile), Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 7:41am

    Doubtful allegation

    "this guy claims that Avvo intentionally publishes false and misleading information in order to coerce lawyer participation"


    FWIW, I have received occasional solicitations from Avvo, to which I have never responded; but so far as I know it has not published anything mean about me.

     

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  8.  
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    Stuart, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 8:08am

    Re:

    They sell their souls to demons and politicians.
    Never to a lowly cop.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    interval (profile), Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 8:26am

    Re: Doubtful allegation

    Well, counselor, one assumes that Avvo is interested in pursing a perception of legitimacy, so baseless accusations and slanderous opinions shouldn't be par for them. Unless your a completely illegitimate and corrupt lawyer, in which case I would accuse them of being incompetent.

     

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  10.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 9:50am

    I'm waiting for the day someone sues RateMyPoo.com for defamation of their lovely Poo.

     

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  11.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 9:50am

    Re:

    And, uh, whatever you do, don't visit that site.

     

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  12.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Sep 4th, 2010 @ 3:29am

    Re:

    Exactly what I was wondering.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 12:02am

    Lawyers will be lawyers. What do lawyers do?

    They sue of course.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    aerozol, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    If they bump up ratings based on if lawyers log into their site, and recruit other people to join, and drop them if they don't (and don't let users know it), this may have something to it. Obviously not a big 'have a million dollars' thing, but perhaps some policy changes might be brought up.

     

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  15.  
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    Conrad from Avvo, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 9:21pm

    Aerozol -

    The simple act of claiming a profile absolutely has nothing to do with the Avvo Rating. The real issue here is a sanctioned lawyer trying to bully us into censoring information about his Florida State Bar disciplinary sanctions.

    -Conrad from Avvo

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    The man, Sep 7th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Funny

    Whats funny is that he admits in his lawsuit that he actively solicited client reviews which is against Florida Bar rules. Looks like another sanction coming his way.

     

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  17.  
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    Long Beach Lawyer, Oct 17th, 2010 @ 4:22pm

    Information to the Public

    Isn't the internet for the free exchange of information, good or bad?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Lawyer in Sonoma, Apr 22nd, 2011 @ 8:12pm

    Lawyers need something to do.

    Seems to me that many lawyers are either bored or they are trying to boost their revenue by seeking settlements.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Power Washing your Driveway, May 22nd, 2011 @ 7:59pm

    Cleaning it up

    I think it's funny that lawyers only know how to use their legal knowledge to get them out of a jam. I'd be interested to see what this guy is really like

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Power Washing your Driveway, May 22nd, 2011 @ 7:59pm

    Cleaning it up

    I think it's funny that lawyers only know how to use their legal knowledge to get them out of a jam. I'd be interested to see what this guy is really like

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Noel, Sep 30th, 2011 @ 7:09am

    Sometimes it can be doubtful but since you posted a great content.I thumbs up for you man.You got a legal action.

     

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  22.  
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    Mikaru, Dec 8th, 2011 @ 2:14am

    There are instances that they uses their power in a wrong way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Joy, Dec 21st, 2011 @ 12:30am

    Who won in this lawsuit?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Lady from 20x tab results, Dec 22nd, 2011 @ 1:24am

    My friend is working as a lawyer and must say that his rate is pretty high.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Katherine, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 1:11pm

    I am sure they both think they are right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Nicole, Jan 14th, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    They are lawyers....suing is not new to them.

     

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  27.  
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    Raiza from engagement rings toronto, Jan 15th, 2012 @ 3:02am

    I am so impress with this page.The rank seems well moderated and the content that was posted is very useful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Shine (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:53am

    Who won in this case anyway? Any updates?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Andrew, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 10:24am

    Lawyers can always find grounds to sue somebody.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Hoy, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Doubtful allegation

    Avvo would not be writing the review, anyone that hired you would. So, do a great job and no worries....love the Constitution...free speech, truth, the good the bad and the ugly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Hoy, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    avvo....LOL...it was dismissed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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