AVVO & Rate MD: Ratings for lawyers & doctors.

img_logo.gifFrom Kevin MD Via Overlawyered: Avvo: Stop rating me or else

Raise your hand if you had "two days" in the "How long before Avvo ran into legal difficulties?" pool. According to the Seattle Times' blog, on June 7 -- just two days after Avvo publicly launched as a lawyer rating service -- a local criminal defense lawyer, John Henry Browne, threw the lawyer's equivalent of a temper tantrum. An excerpt from his demand letter to Avvo:
"I wanted to notify you that I have retained counsel and will be exploring a lawsuit against your corporation for the ridiculously low rating you gave my law practice and the practice of other well-known and competent attorneys. We have yet to determine whether it will be a class action lawsuit or not. However, your rating and the attendant publicity has damaged my law practice and will continue to do so. In an effort to limit damages, I request that you remove your profile of me from your website immediately."
You've got to love the claim that his law practice was damaged in a total of two days. It's also questionable as to whether he has a cause of action in any case; Google regularly gets sued by those who want their websites rated higher, and regularly wins these suits (see, e.g., Mar. 1, Mar. 23, Nov. 2002.) These are likely constitutionally protected opinions, although it's obviously early to judge the merits of a lawsuit we haven't even seen about a website whose methods are unclear.
Avvo Lawyer Rating Site.