The automatically generated rating system was getting questioned by many lawyers and users alike about some, well, questionable ratings (“why does Harriet Miers have a 6.1 out of 10?”); not to mention the class action suit against the company which Britton largely discredits in his blog post.
The rating system, in brief, is meant to rate based on experience and disciplinary action that users (potential clients) should be aware of before choosing a lawyer. So it has
eliminated the rating system for those lawyers that haven’t claimed their profiles and instead put in place a binary rating of either “Attention” or “No Concern,” the former being a red flag signaling users to look deeper and be cautious.
Those lawyers who claim their profiles by comparison get the standard numerical rating and can also add data about themselves that can boost their profile on the site and, in turn, raise their ratings. This is part of the site’s strategy to incentivize participation from the legal community, which can add value (content) to the site.
The change to this binary rating system conversely isn’t a huge hit to the company, because it maintains the core value proposition it was founded on, which is to provide an easy-to-use online tool to find a lawyer. The social aspects of the site are meanwhile a value-added layer of content meant to differentiate it from current legal search sites such as Findlaw.
Britton also mentions other enhancements to the site in his blog post as well as some early growth metrics, such as reaching 100,000 visitors. More on the company’s model is in our past writing.
Update: It was brought to my attention that this explanation for the new rating system is incorrect. The new binary rating only applies to lawyers for whom Avvo has found information from public records alone. Others, whose information is obtained through third-party sources – such as their own Web site – may have a numeric rating, even if they haven’t shown up to claim their profile, as stated above.