February 16, 2009
Notice To D.C. Bar Members
From the web page of the District of Columbia under the header "Important Notice to the Membership about Avvo":
D.C. Bar members have inquired about the nature of the D.C. Bar’s relationship with Seattle-based Avvo, Inc., an Internet-based for-profit attorney marketing service. The Bar has not entered into any agreement with Avvo; instead, Avvo has obtained Bar member information directly from the Bar’s Web site, in violation of our restrictions on use, and used that information for its own commercial purposes (including e-mail solicitations to Bar members). The Bar has been advised that Avvo has refused requests from individual members who wished to be removed from Avvo’s Web site.
Information about Bar members is available to the general public for noncommercial purposes on the Bar’s “Find a Member”Web p age, www.dcbar.org/find_a_member/index.cfm.That information is limited to member names, business addresses, business telephone numbers, dates of admission to the Bar, membership status, and disciplinary history. In addition, member fax numbers and e-mail addresses may be listed if the individual member has provided that information to the Bar without restriction on its use, and members may opt-out of providing such information at any time. Members’ time-sensitive information on the Bar’s Web site is updated regularly.
The Bar has asked Avvo to remove all improperly acquired D.C. Bar member information from its Web site, cease all attempts to acquire such information from the Bar’s Web site, and cease using improperly acquired information for any commercial purpose.
The D.C. Bar takes no position on the voluntary participation of individual members with Avvo or similar services. The Bar does not endorse or warrant the accuracy of any information about Bar members on Avvo’s or any other third-party Web site.
The company is spelled with two "v"s rather than a "w." (Mike Frisch)
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Is there anything you can do to get the DC Bar to stop wasting member dues on this frivolous action. What of DC Bar members who support Avvo and who believe that our bar information is a matter of public record that should be freely available? What recourse do we have?
Posted by: Carolyn Elefant | Feb 16, 2009 10:20:45 PM
The Washington Times reported on this situation in some depth today (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/17/dc-bar-fights-consumer-web-site/) and I have posted more information about Avvo's perspective on the Avvo Blog: http://avvoblog.com/2009/02/17/dc-bar-let-your-data-free/
The DC Bar is right about one thing: Avvo does not allow attorneys to delete their profiles on request. They can claim their profiles and add information, or contact us to correct their address & phone number if they'd rather not claim. Ultimately, however, our mission is to provide consumers with guidance when choosing a lawyer. We can't do so if those who dislike their Avvo Rating, don't want clients to review them, or want to keep us from exposing the fact that they have been sanctioned, are permitted to delete this data from our site.
Posted by: Josh King | Feb 17, 2009 7:02:24 AM
Here is my post on the Avvo issue - http://tinyurl.com/depmmc. I really hope that you will weigh in on this action from an ethics perspective.
Posted by: Carolyn Elefant | Feb 17, 2009 5:24:24 PM
Carolyn, I could not get that tinyurl link to work, but I presume you mean your MyShingle post (which is quite good) at http://www.myshingle.com/2009/02/articles/trends/why-in-an-economic-downturn-is-the-dc-bar-trying-to-kill-one-tool-that-can-help-lawyers-find-clients-and-jobs/
Posted by: Legal Profession | Feb 17, 2009 6:36:34 PM
Carolyn's tiny link does work if you remove the period at the end of her link. Or use the long link I noted. And Mike's follow-up post on Avvo is here: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2009/02/the-controversy.html
Posted by: Legal Profession | Feb 18, 2009 1:29:05 PM