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.”

  • ECS

    Would you look for a pediatrician or a brain surgeon this way? I didn’t think so. I admit lawyers have been guilty of acting like “necessary evils”, but this is the worst way to max that impression.

    I will pass, thanks.

    ECSOldschool Esq.

  • So, what do you think of it? Rather than just reporting this new “offering” – tell us what you, as a lawyer, think of this move by AVVO.


  • Tyler Durden

    This concept further reinforces the impression of lawyers being “ambulance chasers” and extends the impression to that of used-car salesmen. Not to mention the time-cost for responding to multiple independent cases with little guarantee of ROI for time-spent “pandering to the bargain shopper”. Wow, is this where a previously prestigious profession has stooped to?

  • Interesting to see that Avvo is adopting this new approach.

    In Canada, I started to help people connect with lawyers. We have had success so far in attracting lawyers and people needing lawyers but I think it may take a couple more years for lawyers and people looking for legal services to get used to the reverse auction method.

    The great thing about reverse auction is that it provides people with the information they need to make the decision that is best for them, whether it is the cheapest or the best quality (which may be more expensive).

    I don’t think that reverse auction cheapens the profession. In fact, it helps lawyers to better articulate what value they offer to prospective clients. RFPs are performed by governments and large companies and large, prestigious law firms continue to bid on that work – why not have a system for RFPs available to everyone else?