Feb 17, 2011

Another Legal Site Jumps on the Consumer Ratings Bandwagon

6 Comments · Posted by Robert Ambrogi in General

Some lawyers still squirm at the mention of Avvo, the website that purports to rate every lawyer in the U.S. (and now every doctor too). My belief is that ratings are a good thing, in that they help consumers make a better-informed decision. We all check consumer ratings and reviews when we buy other products and services. Why shouldn’t they be available for legal products and services as well?

This month, another site added consumer ratings as a feature, as part of a broader relaunch. The site, MyLegal.com, describes itself as a “dynamic portal that provides business opportunities for the legal community.” It combines features of a marketing directory with those of a professional networking site.

One way in which MyLegal.com differs from many other legal directories is that it includes not only lawyers, but vendors offering products and services to the legal community. Thus, it includes listings for couriers, court-reporting services, e-discovery providers, paralegals, private investigators, and the like.

As of Feb. 1, MyLegal.com added a feature that enables consumers to add reviews of anyone listed in the directory. The feature is simple enough, asking the reviewer to provide a rating of up to five stars and to add a comment describing “your overall impression.”

I somewhat randomly searched the directory and was unable to find any listings that included reviews. Given that the feature was launched just two weeks ago, I’m not surprised by this. To be perfectly honest, I will be surprised if all that many users actually add reviews.

Listing in the MyLegal.com directory requires membership in the site, although the basic membership is free. The site also offers “preferred” and “premier” memberships for $25 and $50 a month.

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6 comments

  • Jim Calloway · February 17, 2011 at 10:37 am

    The difference, Bob, between ratings for lawyers and all those other ratings, including doctors is the often adversarial nature of what lawyers do, leading many to have a motivation to do slam negative ratings that have no relation to the lawyer’s ability. Most people dislike their ex-spouse’s divorce lawyer and would love to take five minutes to get even online. People who don’t think a child molester or the person who killed a friend or child don’t deserve a defense can slam that lawyer. When a person reviews a product there is a pretty strong likelihood that they actually tried the product. Due to confindentiality and the nature of legal business there is no way to know if a reviewer was a lawyer’s client at all or just read about something about them. And there will be people placing negative comments about many lawyers just for entertainment.

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  • Tweets that mention Another Legal Site Jumps on the Consumer Ratings Bandwagon · Robert Ambrogi's LawSites -- Topsy.com · February 17, 2011 at 11:49 am

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  • Legal Software · February 26, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Very Interesting Information. We will look into this information.

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  • Lisa DiMonte · March 1, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Bob,

    Thanks for the post. We’re just getting things off the ground and are very excited about the reaction from legal vendors and lawyers about the new ratings and reviews feature. Vendors like it because they will be able to invite their clients to post ratings and reviews about the client experience, and lawyers and legal teams like it because they will be able to use the ratings and reviews to make informed decisions about vendors, particularly when they need a vendor in another city or if they’re shopping around for a new vendor.

    The ratings and reviews feature on MyLegal.com is designed more for legal service providers than for lawyers, although lawyers certainly can list themselves in the directory if they choose to do so or as permitted by their state guidelines.

    Reviewers have the option to post their ratings and reviews anonymously or to leave their name and other information at the end of the review. The reviews are not validated on the spot but we do have the email address of the reviewer, which allows us to eliminate multiple postings by the same reviewer or to verify the identity of a reviewer in the event there is a question about the validity of the review. Of course, there’s always a way to game the system if someone is willing to go to the trouble of setting up several email addresses and posting a review from each of those email addresses. As Jim indicates in his comments, there will be people placing negative comments just for entertainment. That is the world we live in. If members believe a review is inaccurate or out of line, they can notify us directly or by flagging the review and we’ll look into it immediately.

    If somebody is trying to “game the system” and asking colleagues, friends and neighbors to post reviews, one of three things will happen: The reviews will be brief and without context, e.g., “John is a great trial technician. I highly recommend his work.” or they will all start to look the same or both. We believe that those types of “planted” reviews are relatively easy to spot since the reviews likely won’t have any meaningful insight to offer.

    For example, if you’ve worked with a trial technologist, the review will likely have some context, e.g., “I worked with John on a recent pharmaceutical case. I needed help on very short notice and John jumped right in and created a powerful presentation for my opening statement and closing arguments and used the technology in a thoughtful and professional way. I found him to be responsive, creative and reliable. I would definitely hire him again.” In other words, the review will have some color and therefore adds legitimacy.

    We believe this functionality is a win-win for lawyers and vendors alike and we encourage lawyers and legal teams to invite their favorite vendors to list themselves in the MyLegal.com Professional Directory so they can post a rating and review about their personal experiences with that vendor. Doing so also allows legal teams worldwide to benefit from the collective experiences of their colleagues.

    We believe the key to a successful outcome for our members is for them to engage their happiest clients to post reviews of them. It will become obvious very quickly who those vendors are that provide great service. Members should ask their clients to provide as much context as possible and also to provide some identifying information at the end of the review, such as their first name and city, or perhaps their firm name, if there is no obstacle to doing so, such as a prohibition by the law firm to endorse a specific vendor. We believe this is going to work best if our members actively solicit reviews from their clients and build a portfolio.

    I hope this helps clarify the direction we’re going.

    Give us time; we’re getting there! Thanks again, Bob, for the post.

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  • Lee · July 3, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    While I do not object to the concept of ratings for lawyers, Jim’s concerns are certainly valid.

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  • Groupon for Lawyers: MyLegal.com Delivers Legal Deals · Robert Ambrogi's LawSites · November 29, 2011 at 9:31 am

    [...] already provided a directory of legal vendors and, early in 2011, it added user reviews of vendors (although reviews remain scant). Starting in October, it added vendor deals, enabling [...]

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