Jan 8, 2019

What Are Problems With Online Rating Sites?

Michael Ehline Swears in To the Bar
Taking the oath!

The Rise in Legal Search on the Internet

Examples of attorney rating sites are Martindale, Lawyers.Com, Avvo, and Superlawyers. There are at least 78.1 million people throughout the United States that use the World Wide Web. So, it stands to reason that these people are likely to use the Internet to locate a personal injury attorney.

Out of 228 million adult users of the Internet, 93% of them browse local businesses and other types of services. This number includes law services. Such a large amount of traffic has caused an increase in questions. In fact, a small industry has taken over legal marketing on the web through attorney ranking sites.

What are Attorney Rankings Sites?

The popularity of attorney ranking sites has continued to increase over the last several years. Their purpose is to provide people searching for legal services and professionals. Consumers are hoping for a resource they can trust.

These sites generally list attorneys that have the highest qualifications in regards to:

  • Educational background
  • Win / loss record
  • Client satisfaction
  • Various other factors

Profit is what drives attorney ranking sites. Some of them employ ghostwriters to put up a copy on other sites in their blog networks.

Where Does the Problem Lie?

Three attorney ranking sites are the most prominent. Conflicts of interests abound these sites. And the approach used is very questionable. Some sites allow you to ad bid on your competitor's name! (So your picture and NAP Data shows up when someone searches for them.) The validity of the rankings generated on all three sites were debatable. The same is also true for their overall operation practices.

What are the Results of the Investigation of These Sites?

An investigation was decided in August 2011 by ABACE, which is the American Bar Association Commission on Ethics 20/20. In February of 2010, the House of Delegates proposed investigations into the United States News & World Report. Specifically, they wanted to know more about yearly lists of rankings of the top law firms. This was known as “Resolution 10A.” Also, this resolution was sponsored by The New York State Bar Association.

Unspecified attorney ranking sites were questioned in the ABACE investigation. Also, disciplinary agencies, attorneys, consumer groups, bar associations, and other ranking sites were interviewed. ABACE, found no evidence existed that pointed to a widespread problem. So most people figure that attorney ranking sites are genuine. However, there is not nearly enough evidence for this to be definite.

ABACE also stated no need exists for the ABA to support, undertake, or fund additional resources to further study. One reason for this decision was there just was not an adequate amount of evidence that a pervasive issue exists that would merit the ABA to proceed further. ABACE concluded that the fact that a sufficient amount of evidence did not exist, the expense of employing experts would not be justified.

What is The Real Meaning of the Investigation?

So ABACE feels without supporting evidence, there must not be a problem. The criteria that rating sites use hasn't been adequately researched. It will cost money to do this, and the ABA probably cannot be the one to do it.