The legal directory and Q&A site Avvo this week added a new feature, the Avvo Legal Marketplace, through which consumers can obtain proposals from lawyers interested in handling their case. Initially, this will be available for two practice areas, divorce and traffic tickets, with additional practice areas to be added.
The concept is essentially that of a reverse auction, in which the providers of a service compete to obtain the consumer’s business. I’ve written about other reverse-auction sites before, including EagleFee and Shpoonkle.
With the Avvo Legal Marketplace, the consumer fills out a short form describing the nature and location of the matter. The information is provided to lawyers who practice in that area. The lawyers have three days to respond, describing what they would charge, how they would approach the case, and any other information they care to provide. Using the information provided by the lawyer in addition to the information about the lawyer already available on Avvo, such as the lawyer’s profile and reviews, the consumer can then make a selection.
For lawyers to participate in the Legal Marketplace, they must have claimed their Avvo profile. Lawyers will be able to request additional information from a consumer before responding.
The process is not binding. Consumers are not obligated to select the lowest bidder. The idea, according to Avvo CEO Mark Britton, is to give consumers “a better understanding of how the attorney will approach the case and anticipated costs.”