Avvo III

 Posted on June 21, 2007 in Uncategorized

An anonymous commentator said the following about my recent More on Avvo post:

1. You seem to be saying that because Avvo cannot replace the best possible method (live, face to face interviews and comparisons) of choosing one particular kind of attorney (criminal defenders) that it therefore has no value at all. What about people who need a lawyer but, for whatever reason, can't avail themselves of that optimal method of choosing? Does the part really speak for the whole that strongly here?2. Interestingly, you also suggest that whether a defendant is found guilty or not guilty depends pretty much wholly on who the defender is. Doesn't the available evidence in the case have anything to do with the outcome? Doesn't this part speak for the whole at all?

First, I'd like to point out that as long as I remain one of only two Houston criminal-defense lawyers with a 10/10 rating on Avvo, it's not in my self-interest to criticize the system. But the truth is the truth.

I wouldn't say that Avvo has no value - any website that brings data from disparate sources together into one place has value - but that its rating system has no value in choosing criminal-defense lawyers (the lawyers with whom I'm most familiar). The numerical data that go into the ratings - number of papers, number of speeches, number of honors, and so forth - have nothing to do with how well a criminal-defense lawyer will represent you in court. Garbage in, garbage out.

People who can't choose a lawyer the right way should do the next best thing: interviews with as many lawyers as they can stand over the telephone.There may be some other area of the law - transactional law? - for which Avvo's ratings are useful, but I don't know what it is. In any case, the rating system that works for lawyers who write contracts or appellate briefs won't work for lawyers who stand up for the accused in court. Lawyers are not fungible.

As to the second point: Yes, you might lose your freedom or your life with the right lawyer as well. Three things (and only three things) matter to the outcome of a criminal case: your facts, your lawyer, and your luck. You can't change your facts or your luck; the only factor under your control is who you hire. Choosing the right lawyer doesn't guarantee that you'll prevail, but it improves your odds.

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