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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, according to the World Bank. So, it stands to reason that these people are likely to look to the Internet to locate a personal injury attorney.

Out of 228 million adult users of the Internet, 93% of them take advantage of the ability it provides to browse local businesses and other types of services, which includes law services. Such a large amount of traffic has caused an increase in questions regarding a small industry that 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 surfaces and legal professionals alike with 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

The majority of people are not aware of is attorney rankings sites they claim to be represented as a resource for educational purposes when instead they are ultimately driven purely by profit. Some of them employ ghostwriters to put up a copy on other sites in their blog networks, to game the SERPS, for example.


Where Does the Problem Lie?

An analysis was generated using three of the sites claimed to be attorney ranking sites that are the most prominent. It is very clear that they are crammed full of conflicts of interests and the approach used is very questionable. Furthermore, the ratings they locate for personal injury lawyers are basically unusable.

Some sites allow you to ad bid on your competitor’s name! (So your picture and NAP Data shows up when someone searches for you.) The rankings that were generated from criteria used on all three sites were debatable, to say the least. 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, an investigation was encouraged by the House of Delegates into local, state, national, and territorial efforts of publishing rankings of law schools and law firms.

What was initially proposed to be investigations into the United States News & World Report’s yearly lists of rankings of the top law firms ultimately became known as “Resolution 10A.” The New York State Bar Association sponsored 10a.

Attorney ranking sites that were unspecified were questioned in the investigation conducted by ABACE. During the investigation, disciplinary agencies, attorneys, consumer groups, bar associations, and the ranking sites were interviewed.

It was determined by ABACE, from the findings of the investigation that no evidence existed that pointed to a widespread problem. This evidence makes it seem to people following it that Attorney ranking sites are genuine. However, there is not nearly enough evidence for this to be definite.

ABACE also stated that there is not currently a need for the ABA to support, undertake, or fund additional resources to continue 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?

The bottom line is ABACE feels that since a problem cannot be proven with supporting evidence, then there must not be a problem. The fact of the matter would be painful to determine a problem only because law firm and attorney ranking websites are relatively new.

Due to this, the criteria that sites such as this use for classification, and their overall practices for operation, have not yet been adequately researched. It will cost money to do this, and the ABA probably cannot be the one to do it.


Michael Ehline - PI Law Tutorials

Michael Ehline is a highly trained personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, CA. He writes educational articles to help injured consumers.

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