Avvo Survey Shows Americans Lack Confidence and Information When It Comes to Choosing Right Lawyer

Only 17 Percent Say It's Easy to Research Detailed Information, Feel Very Confident in their Ability to Choose Well More People Turning to the Internet as Resource than Traditional Yellow Pages

Seattle, Wash — Choosing a lawyer is an incredibly important decision in most people’s lives, but just 17 percent of Americans surveyed feel very confident in their ability to choose the right lawyer and the same percentage says it is easy to research detailed information on lawyers.

These were among the findings of a recent Ipsos survey commissioned by Avvo Inc., which today launched www.avvo.com, a website that rates and profiles every lawyer so consumers can choose the right lawyer.

“I’ve evaluated and hired hundreds of attorneys over the years and even with all the information available to me, which isn’t readily available to consumers, it’s often been hard to choose the right one,” said Avvo CEO Mark Britton, a 15-year lawyer who was general counsel of Expedia. “This lack of information and guidance is precisely the problem we set out to solve with Avvo.”

Consumers reported the most important factors to them in choosing a lawyer were the attorney’s experience handling cases similar to theirs, if they had positive ratings from their clients and if they had ever received any disciplinary sanctions for professional misconduct. While they might not be confident making the choice, a significant number of people have a need for a lawyer. Nearly 30 percent of American adults said they or someone in their household looked for an attorney within the last two years while another 11 percent reported that they had been in a situation in which they considered hiring an attorney but didn’t because they didn’t know how to choose the right lawyer.

“That’s 25 million Americans who aren’t getting the legal help they need because they didn’t know how to choose a lawyer,” said Britton. “That’s not good news for consumers or attorneys.”

Lawyer Image and Reputation

Lawyers often have a negative image among the public, fueled by coverage of high profile cases and the portrayal of attorneys on film and TV. In a 2006 Gallup survey, consumers rated the legal field fourth from last when asked about their view of various industries, ahead of only oil and gas, the federal government, and electric and gas utilities. However, the reality is that only 12 percent of those surveyed were not satisfied with the performance of attorneys they’re currently using or had used in the past.


When asked which fictional character best represented the type of lawyer they wanted representing them, respondents gravitated toward venerable characters, ranking Jack McCoy, the character from NBC’s long-running series “Law & Order,” highest, followed by “Matlock” and “Perry Mason” tying for second and Atticus Finch from the classic literary novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” close behind in third place. Finishing in the distance were TV’s Sebastian Stark (“Shark”), Denny Crane (“Boston Legal”), “Ally McBeal” and Arnie Becker (“L.A. Law”).

The Internet’s expanding role

According to the survey, people are turning to online resources more than the traditional Yellow Pages as a place they would go to choose an attorney. While 25 percent of respondents said they’d still go to the Yellow Pages if they needed an attorney, 32 percent would use online resources such as legal directories, search engines or lawyers’ websites.

“Referrals are the way most people find lawyers today, but that method is imperfect and only as good as one’s network,” said Greg Sterling, founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence and a former litigation attorney. “To date there hasn’t been an accessible, trusted source for consumers to research and find attorneys or to investigate legal referrals they may receive.”

Avvo is the only website that rates and profiles every lawyer so consumers can choose the right lawyer. Consumers have never before had access to the level of information and guidance Avvo provides, including the Avvo Rating, disciplinary sanctions and client ratings. The launch of the free website marks the first time attorney ratings have been available for every attorney and the first time that detailed profiles and disciplinary information for those attorneys have been available in a single place.

The website currently includes profiles and ratings on every attorney in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, and will be adding more states monthly.


During April and May of 2007, Ipsos conducted an omnibus online survey of approximately 1,000 adults, all aged 18 and older. The study was commissioned by Avvo Inc. Ipsos reports a 95 percent confidence level that the results of both surveys are accurate to within +/- 3 percent.

About Ipsos in North America

Ipsos is the fastest growing market research company in the U.S., market leader in Canada, and among the most trusted research brands in North America. With more than 1,500 professionals and support staff in the U.S. and Canada, Ipsos offers a suite of survey-based services – guided by industry experts and bolstered by advanced analytics and methodologies – in advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media and public affairs research, as well as forecasting, modeling, and consulting. Ipsos companies offer a complete line of custom, syndicated, omnibus, panel, and online research products and services. Ipsos conducts polling on behalf of the Associated Press, the world’s oldest and largest news organization.

In 2006, Ipsos generated $1.1 billion U.S. in total revenues, of which 34 percent came from its North American operations. The Paris-based company was founded in 1975 and has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999. To learn more, visit: www.ipsos-na.com.

About Avvo

Headquartered in Seattle and founded in early 2006, Avvo is dedicated to helping consumers better navigate the complex legal industry. Avvo.com is the only lawyer search website that rates and profiles every lawyer to help consumers find the right lawyer. The free site provides the information and guidance consumers need, including the Avvo Rating, disciplinary sanctions, and client ratings. Avvo also gives every attorney a free online profile they can update as often and with as much information as they want. Avvo is privately held with funding from investors Benchmark Capital and Ignition Partners. For more information, visit www.avvo.com.