The website may have merit in some areas (such as advice), but is not trustworthy when it comes to posting a negative review. And trust trumping all other qualities, the 1 / 5 stars rating is justified (updated to 2 / 5 on Sep 19, explained at the bottom). My review is in three parts: 1/ My experience writing a negative review about a "A Boutique New York Uncontested Divorce Law Firm" with a visible online presence, and dealing with Avvo's support. 2/ Comments on the frequency of the reviews for that particular law firm, whose website shows there are 5 attorneys (keep that in mind). 3/ A more general defect about Avvo's user interface.
1/ On Aug 29th, my first review was accepted for publication by Avvo. On Sep 2nd, and I get an email stating that my review is revoked. I then wrote a new, similar, but shorter, review:
" [...] At my request that [the lawyers] identify possible legal flaws [in the divorce papers], [they] refused, justifying it as follows: Would you ask your current doctor to take responsibility for a medical procedure was performed by another doctor. To which I responded, Your analogy with the doctor is sophistry. [...] A doctor looks at past reports of medical procedures, to ensure the next one is appropriate". [They] diverted from proper etiquette, in my opinion, with comments such as "That said this is not elementary school", and no common ground was found. So I filed a complaint with the Grievance Committee."
On Sep 3rd, my review was approved, and the 4th it was revoked. On the 5th, I complained through their support interface as follows:
"it's the second time you reject my review, without giving a specific reason. I ask that you please identify contentious sentences, and, for each, explain why. "
On Sep 9th, I got this response:
"I have approved your most recent client review and it is now posted in your attorney's profile. We have a team of people who read client reviews to ensure they meet our community guidelines, and sometimes we make mistakes. [...] Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with. "
On Sep 10th, I replied to the support email address:
"the frequency of reviews for this lawyer, several per week, is dubious. I think it's your duty towards the users of this site, whether lawyers or potential clients, to look for combos of reviews for a given lawyer that share a common ip address, which is the dead giveaway they are fraudulent. Your webadministrator can easily do that"
On Sep 10th, they responded:
"If you feel you've come across any suspicious reviews please let us know and we will look into it. "
Which I interpret as stonewalling. On Sep 15th, my review was revoked. I emailed the support group that had previously reviewed my earlier claim as follows:
"the 'most recent client review' you approved after I contested its removal, has once again been removed (see below, email timestamped Mon, Sep 15 [...]). Please clarify."
And to this day, Sep 19th, it hasn't been answered.
The attorney could have commented on my review, but never did. Apparently, working behind the scenes is his preferred course of action, and the disturbing part is, facts prove him right.
2/ When my first review was approved, Aug 29th, there were 630 reviews for the lawyer. Today, Sep (1)9th, there are 650 (oldest reviews are two years old). That's 20 cases that were processed (in 3 weeks). If, say, 10% of divorce clients write a review, it implies each attorney processes 40 cases (in that time frame). That's about (nearly 3) cases/day. It's a factory! I looked at other NYS divorce lawyers, and the bulk has under 10 reviews, and a few have up to 70.
Keep in mind that it isn't just prospective clients that are misled, but the (I hope) majority of attorneys using this site that don't seek to game the system.
3/ Unlike, say, Amazon, users cannot filter reviews by rating. That's makes it very difficult to search for bad reviews when there's a plethora of reviews, as in case reported here.
PS: any edits are shown inside ()
(On Sep 19, customer care emailed me
"Thanks for reaching out! I am sorry for the confusion. I have put notes to not remove the review. Your review has been reposted. "
Hence the 2 stars, rather than 1.)