Suit Brought by Lawyers Unhappy with Avvo Ratings "Utterly Without Merit"
Seattle, Wash — Stating that its publication of attorney disciplinary information and its own and others’ opinions are protected by the First Amendment, Avvo, Inc., the only website that rates and profiles every lawyer, today filed a motion asking the United States District Court in Seattle to dismiss with prejudice the Class Action Complaint filed June 14, 2007, by two Seattle lawyers unhappy about their Avvo Ratings.
“This suit is utterly without merit,” said Avvo CEO Mark Britton, a 15-year attorney and former general counsel of Expedia, Inc. “This is an attempt to censor the opinions of Avvo, clients, and even other lawyers. The Internet is making it possible for many different types of opinions to be heard — none of them perfect, but all of them valuable. And, because these attorneys may not like opinions being rendered about them, they have filed this lawsuit — a mere nine days after Avvo’s launch – in an attempt to bomb all of us back to the Stone Age.”
As detailed in the complaint, the Avvo site (www.avvo.com), which offers free information and guidance to help consumers choose the right attorney, states numerous times that Avvo’s ratings are merely opinions regarding attorneys’ qualifications and a good place for consumers to start their research.
“Americans have the constitutional right to rate everything from restaurants, beers, books, and movies to colleges, law schools, architecture, and airlines,” said Bruce E.H. Johnson, partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, and Avvo’s counsel. “Lawyers routinely exercise their right to rate judges. It’s a wonderment these particular lawyers seem to believe that Americans shouldn’t rate them.”
Noting cases involving the California Bar Association, Martindale Hubbell, Esquire Publishing and The El Paso Times in which opinions about attorneys constituted protected speech, Avvo’s Motion to Dismiss cites extensive case law protecting media outlets’ First Amendment rights and rebuts the allegations in the Class Action Complaint. That complaint, filed in U.S. District Court on June 14, was initiated by Seattle attorney John Henry Browne whose Avvo Rating exposed a recent disciplinary action he received from the Washington State Bar Association.
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.