Is Avvo a Good Substitute for Legal Advice?

Asking Questions on Avvo: Illustration by Example

I’m going to make my point just by showing you a few things. Let me first make clear that I really like Avvo and I think sometimes it even helps people out. I also like it because they get a ton of traffic and their visibility is wonderful.

But watch this. Here is an excerpt from the terms of use on Avvo, put in very tiny print so that it doesn’t take up the whole page:

9. No Attorney Client Relationship
Information posted or made available on or through the Site, including without limitation any responses to legal questions posted on Avvo Answers, information provided in Avvo Legal Guides, and any other comments, opinions, recommendations, answers, analysis, references, referrals or legally related content or information (collectively “Legal Information”) is not intended to create an attorney client relationship between you and any attorney. Such Legal Information is intended for general informational purposes only and should be used only as a starting point for addressing your legal issues. It is not a substitute for an in person or telephone consultation with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction about your specific legal issue, and you should not rely upon such Legal Information. You understand that questions and answers or other postings to the Site are not confidential and are not subject to attorney client privilege. Company does not select, screen, approve, endorse or limit who can post Legal Information, including those who contribute responses to Avvo Answers and Avvo Legal Guides (“Contributors”). Designation as a Contributor at a particular level is based solely on the number of contributions made and user ratings as to helpfulness of such contributions and does not reflect any endorsement or approval by Company. In addition, although we reserve the right to review, remove or edit any content from the site, we do not routinely screen, monitor, or review the content of any such Legal Information. As a result, we have no control over and we do not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, applicability, completeness, currency or quality of any such Legal Information or the qualifications of those posting Legal Information. AVVO SHALL HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY OR LIABILITY OF ANY KIND FOR ANY LEGAL INFORMATION YOU ENCOUNTER ON OR THROUGH THE SITE, AND ANY USE OR RELIANCE ON LEGAL INFORMATION IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.
10. Disclaimers and Acknowledgements Regarding Use of Site Information
THE SITE, THE SITE MATERIALS (INCLUDING ANY LEGAL INFORMATION) AND THE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE” BASIS WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. COMPANY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON INFRINGEMENT AS TO THE INFORMATION, CONTENT OR MATERIALS IN THE SITE. COMPANY DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT SITE MATERIALS, INCLUDING THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE IN OR ON THE SITE, OR THE SERVICES ARE ACCURATE, COMPLETE, RELIABLE, CURRENT OR ERROR FREE. COMPANY DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT THE SITE OR ITS SERVERS ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.

While Company endeavors to provide and to allow others to provide useful information regarding attorneys, legal services and the law, you acknowledge that such information is reliant upon third party data and contributions, that there are certain inherent limitations to the accuracy or currency of such information, that attorney and other information may be incomplete or may contain inaccuracies (including without limitation any interpretations and reviews of such information and Site Materials, such as Avvo Ratings and Legal Information), and that information on the Site may be outdated or contain errors, omissions or misinterpretations of information. You further acknowledge that an Avvo Rating and the other information contained in an attorney’s profile, such as descriptions of an attorney’s areas of practice (including percentages devoted to each), and other data, summaries or descriptions on the Site, are based on the data obtained by or submitted to Company, which may be incomplete or inaccurate, and rely on automated interpretations of the information gathered by or submitted to Company. An Avvo Rating reflects the Company’s assessment of a given attorney, based upon the information obtained by or submitted to Company; someone else’s assessment of the same lawyer may be different or based upon different information. Neither Avvo Ratings, Legal Information nor any of the other information contained on the Site or provided through the Services, are an endorsement of any particular attorney or are a guarantee of an attorney’s quality, competency, qualifications, experience, resources, character, honesty, integrity, responsiveness or other personal and professional characteristics. Nor are they a predictor of the outcome of a legal matter handled by such attorney. The information provided on this Site is intended to be a starting point to gather information about legal issues and attorneys who may be suitable for your legal needs, but you should not rely solely on such information in deciding whether to hire an attorney or how to resolve a legal matter. Furthermore, you should independently verify the accuracy of any information you obtain on the Site before using it, and you should obtain independent references for any attorneys you are considering hiring. You agree to be solely responsible for your use of the Site, the Site Materials and the Services and for determining the suitability of, and the results obtained from, any attorney you hire.
Additional information about Site Materials, the Services, the Avvo Rating, Avvo Answers, Avvo Legal Guides, the sources of information displayed on the Site, and other important matters is contained within the Site itself, including in the User FAQ, Lawyer FAQ, and Community Guidelines, and you acknowledge and agree that your use of the Site, or of any information or features in or on the Site, is informed by and subject not only to these Disclaimers and Site Terms but also by the information and explanation available on these pages.
COMPANY IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS IN ANY INFORMATION OR MATERIALS CONTAINED ON THE SITE, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ATTORNEY PROFILE INFORMATION OR LEGAL INFORMATION. WHILE COMPANY ATTEMPTS TO MAKE YOUR ACCESS AND USE OF THE SITE SAFE, COMPANY CANNOT AND DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT THE SITE OR ITS SERVER(S), OR ANY CONTENT OR MATERIALS ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS; THEREFORE, YOU SHOULD USE INDUSTRY RECOGNIZED SOFTWARE TO DETECT AND DISINFECT VIRUSES, SPYWARE, MALWARE, AND OTHER HARMFUL OR OTHERWISE UNDESIRABLE COMPONENTS FROM ANY DOWNLOAD.
Company reserves the right to change any and all content contained in the Site and any Services offered through the Site at any time without notice. Reference to any attorneys, law firms, or other legal service providers or organizations, educational institutions, courts, associations, organizations, publications, licenses, accreditations, ratings, evaluations, endorsements, reviews, products, services, processes or other information, by name, trade name, trademark, manufacturer, supplier or otherwise does not constitute or imply endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation thereof, or any affiliation therewith, by Company.

And yet, when you ask a question, you will often see this as a substantial portion of the answer:

LEGAL DISCLAIMER
[Attorney] is licensed to practice law in [state or states]. [Attorney’s] response here is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter in question. Many times the questioner may leave out details which would make the reply unsuitable. [Attorney] strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their own state to acquire more information about this issue.

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