How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer For Beginners: Higher Legal vs. Avvo.com

By Daniel Amos

What is the best way to find a personal injury lawyer in California?

This is the second article in a series to help you determine the best way to find a personal injury lawyer in California. My first article looked at the difference between a California State Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) and a giant advertising or “Lead Generation” business. You can find that article here: Higher Legal vs. AllLaw.com.

In this article, I will compare and contrast an LRS to Avvo.com, which is described as “an online marketplace for legal services”. My hope is to provide you with information that helps you find the best method to find your personal injury lawyer.

When I became a personal injury lawyer in 1985 most people found their personal injury lawyers through a personal referral. Sometimes it was a referral from a friend or family member, but more often it was from a judge or another lawyer.

The internet and mass media advertising changed everything, some for the better, some not.

There are many methods to find a personal injury lawyer

I won’t repeat everything I said about the experience of finding your California personal injury lawyer through a California State Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Service like Higher Legal (LRS#130), because you can find all of that information in my previous article. A short summary of that information is below.

But, I will stress that dealing with Higher Legal is a very different experience than dealing with a large business like Avvo.com. At Higher Legal we like to think we are the one service that is different from all the rest.

Method #1: What is a State Bar Lawyer Referral Service?

The California State Bar has a special certification it awards to organizations that meet a high level of transparency and excellence. Certified Lawyer Referral Services (LRS) are designed to serve the community, protect legal consumers, and improve the quality and affordability of legal services to the public. If you look at the California State Bar website, their number one listing on how to find a lawyer is through a certified Lawyer Referral Service (LRS).

Higher Legal is a one-person operation with a limited budget, but we (me) have a lot of legal experience and a sincere heart. My entire legal career has been as a personal injury lawyer. When someone is looking for the right personal injury lawyer, they deal directly with me, a personal injury lawyer with decades of experience. If that’s important to you, Higher Legal might be a great resource for you.

And when I refer someone to one of our great Higher Legal panel lawyers, our relationship doesn't end there. I encourage all Higher Legal clients to stay in touch and keep me informed about their experience and how their case is going. I encourage them to contact me if they have any questions or if there is anything about their case they don’t understand. As a personal injury lawyer since 1985, I have a lot of experience and I love to share that with people. I am always available to help.

With Higher Legal, you have a personal relationship with a real person, a real lawyer (me) who is always here to help you navigate through any fears or frustrations you have while going through personal injury litigation.

Method #2: What is an online marketplace?

Avvo.com is described by Wikipedia as, “an online marketplace for legal services”. In writing this article I hope to differentiate it from AllLaw.com which I reviewed in my previous article.

According to Wikipedia the name Avvo comes from “avvocato”, the Italian word for lawyer, which also sounds like avocado. Wikipedia indicates that the idea for Avvo.com was developed while the owners were vacationing in Italy.

Like AllLaw.com, Avvo.com appears to do a lot of online advertising in order to get people who need a personal injury lawyer to contact them, and then they sell that client (or ‘lead’) to a lawyer who needs business. In other words, injured victims become commodities that are bought and sold.

Who is Avvo.com?

Wikipedia states that Avvo operates as a “scraper site” to generate its lawyer listings and it also receives an “additional source of revenue…through a $49.95/mo subscription service called "Avvo Pro" which allows lawyers to remove advertisements from their profile, including advertisements by competing lawyers.” In other words, lawyers who need business pay a monthly subscription fee to Avvo.com in order to have their name on the website so you will find them and contact them.

Wikipedia goes on to say, “The company was initially financed with $13 million in venture capital from Benchmark Capital and Ignition Partners. Subsequently, Avvo raised $71.5 million in financing in 2015, which brings the company's total financing to $132 million”. “In January 2018, Avvo entered a deal to be acquired by Internet Brandswhich is MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands, an American new media company based in El Segundo, California. That company was founded in 1998 as CarsDirect.com, launched from the business incubator Idealab. The company invented a consumer-advocacy approach to selling cars "haggle-free" online, an approach it continues to employ. It is listed as having revenue of $1.6 Billion dollars in 2020. Their website states they are not a lawyer referral service, and “The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising.”

Although Avvo.com is described in some places as an online marketplace for legal services, according to the American Bar Association (ABA) it is part of what is known as a Lead Generation service:

  • There are a variety of lead generation companies - some known brands, some obscure, and some operating from the shadows of the legal search engine optimization (SEO) market. Large-branded players in the legal field include Lawyers.com, FindLaw, Nolo, and Martindale-Avvo.

Why choose Avvo.com?

If you go to the Avvo.com website you will see a prominent heading that says, “Experienced Lawyers are ready to help” but the site also cautions its users that the lawyer “ratings” you see on their website are "not an endorsement of any particular lawyer, and is not a guarantee of a lawyer's quality, competency, or character.”

Indeed, there is nothing on the Avvo.com website that indicates if their lawyers are good lawyers or if they are qualified to handle your case, or if they have experience in any particular area of personal injury law.

Avvo.com also does not specialize in personal injury law or in lawyers who specialize in personal injury law, and they don’t seem to provide much useful information about the lawyers they will help you “find”.

This was surprising!

One of the claims on Avvo.com states that 97% of the lawyers in the United States are rated by Avvo! That seems incredible! In fact, they say, “Imagine having nearly every licensed lawyer in the US right at your fingertips, the moment you need help. Avvo has that, plus detailed profiles, reviews, and Avvo Ratings”. Really?

Now I have been a personal injury lawyer since 1985 and I founded Higher Legal in 2009. I have never had any interaction with Avvo.com, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that Avvo.com lists ME in their service!

Maybe Avvo.com is simply a phone book of every lawyer in the United States.

Coming soon…

This series of articles deals with the many different methods you can use to find a personal injury lawyer in California. I will also be writing articles that deal with the attributes you should look for when you are trying to find a personal injury lawyer in California. Those articles will deal with characteristics you should look for in your lawyer that will be a good fit for you such as:

  • Communication Skills: Do you want a lawyer who updates you all the time, or would you prefer to just hear from your lawyer about the most important events in your case?
  • Experience: What type of personal injury cases does your lawyer have the most experience in? Has she/he had jury trial experience?
  • Size Matters: Will you work better with a large firm, a small group, or a solo practitioner?

There are lots of things to consider when you decide where and how you will find your personal injury lawyer and I will be writing articles to help you with all of these decisions.

I hope this article has provided you with some helpful information on two different methods you can use to find a personal injury lawyer in California.

I realize there is a lot more information on this subject so if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at Higher Legal. I promise I will get back to you!

If you need a referral to a great personal injury lawyer, send me a message and I will personally help you find the right personal injury lawyer for your case.

If you found any of this information useful, I hope you will share this post with your family and friends, and ‘SUBSCRIBE’ to this blog. Your support helps grow our community and allows us to help others like you who are looking for reliable legal information.

As I mentioned in the article, Higher Legal is a personalized operation with a limited budget, not like the lead generation companies who are multi-billion dollar operations, so I need your help getting the word out!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel AmosAttorney since 1985Founder of Higher Legal