Monday, June 16, 2008

On-line lawyer rating service hits Michigan, an on-line lawyer rating service that premiered to mixed reviews (here, here and here) last June, and weathered a class-action lawsuit filed by attorneys who took issue with their ratings, now includes ratings for Michigan (and Wisconsin) lawyers.

From Avvo's press release last week:

"The new ratings and profiles are immediately available for consumers to view and for lawyers to claim and update for free. Avvo is now available in 15 states and the District of Columbia, and covers approximately 70 percent of licensed attorneys across the country.
"Avvo offers consumers more information and better guidance regarding lawyers and legal issues than has previously been available in one place. Avvo rates and profiles every lawyer, with Avvo Profiles including attorneys' practice areas, work experience, industry recognition, and disciplinary sanctions. Avvo also aggregates and displays client reviews submitted by consumers and peer reviews submitted by attorneys."
How does Avvo calculate its ratings for lawyers? From Avvo's website:
"The Avvo Rating is our effort to evaluate a lawyer's background, based on the information we know about the lawyer. The rating is calculated using a mathematical model that considers the information shown in a lawyer's profile, including a lawyer's years in practice, disciplinary history, professional achievements and industry recognition - all factors that, in our opinion, are relevant to assessing a lawyer's qualifications.
"For some lawyers, the only information we have been able to collect is the publicly available information from state bar associations or other organizations that license lawyers. If that is all we have, then we display an Avvo Rating for the lawyer of either 'Attention' or 'No Concern.' We display the 'Attention' rating if there is information in the licensing records that, in our opinion, you should pay attention to, such as a disciplinary action against a lawyer without offsetting positive information. Otherwise, we display the 'No Concern' rating."
So, how useful is Avvo? I tried popping in the names of a few Michigan attorneys, selected by the highly scientific method of flipping the pages of the Michigan Bar Directory with my eyes closed, stopping and pointing my finger.

I used the "Lawyer Name" search tab on Avvo's home page. There are fields for first and last name, plus a city, state or zip code field. In each case, I used first name and middle initial, if any, last name and "Michigan."

The results were erratic.

For instance, searching for Douglas J. Donaldson, of the Donaldson & Bieganowski firm, produced this from Avvo: "We did not find any lawyers named Douglas J. Donaldson. To help you, we have expanded your search to include lawyers with the last name Donaldson." But, curiously, under this "no find" advisory, his profile was listed nonetheless, with a "No concern" rating. Clicking his profile revealed this information: "23 years since Douglas J. Donaldson was first licensed to practice law in MI," no disciplinary actions, practice areas unknown.

Searching for Stacie R. Behler, listed in the bar directory as "Vice President Public Affairs Meijer Stores," produced the same "no find" advisory. But, like Donaldson, Behler's profile was listed below the advisory. Here's her information: "13 years since Stacie R. Behler was first licensed to practice law in MI," no disciplinary actions, practice areas unknown.

A search for Robert C. Ketola, Robert P. Ketola & Associates, did not produce a "no find" advisory (as should have Donaldson's and Behler's). Clicking Ketola's profile lets you know: "11 years since Robert C. Ketola was first licensed to practice law in MI," no disciplinary actions, practice areas unknown.


None of the lawyers I searched had a numeric Avvo rating. In fact, it was not that easy to find a lawyer that had a numeric Avvo rating. I searched for every lawyer with the last name "Smith" in Michigan. Avvo returned 276 listings, and by my count, roughly ten percent had a numeric rating.

Hmmm. Hmmm.

Then, just for grins, I tried each of the Michigan Supreme Court justices. A search for Chief Justice Clifford W. Taylor produced the now-familiar "We did not find any lawyers named ..." But there was a profile listing for him. There were "no find" advisories but profile listings for Justices Elizabeth Weaver, Robert P. Young and Stephen J. Markman.
A listing appeared for Justice Michael F. Cavanagh. A search for Justice Marilyn Kelly took me straight to two lawyers named Mary Kelly but did not advise me there was no listing for Marilyn Kelly.

Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm.

Justice Maura D. Corrigan's search produced the most curious result. Avvo advised that "Hon. Maura D. Corrigan has not claimed this profile so information may not be current. Here are similar lawyers that may interest you. These lawyers have claimed profiles and provided up-to-date information." The "similar lawyers" (only one was listed) was Shalini Nangia, a Livonia attorney with 7.4/10 rating. I searched both Corrigan's and Nangia's Avvo profiles in vain for something that would justify Avvo's "similar lawyers" linkage.

Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm.

Looks like the Avvo folks have a little work to do.


BellaMarie said...

The Law Offices of Lucido & Manzella. Doesn't return retainer fee if case was canceled even though the amount is well over 1,000 dollars. He never mentioned that in our "free" consultation but of course it's in the fine print. Doesn't answer phone calls, always someone else answers his calls or shows up for him court. Too expensive for his arrogant attitude. Is this right, can they really do this?

Defence Lawyer Toronto said...

Online lawyer rating service has really interesting concept of rating. Definitely it is hit Michigan but we hope Michigan will get some good ratings.

Anonymous said...

I am not discussing any lawyers, but do have a lot of concerns about Judge Michael Theile. He is a joke, the man laughs and says he is tired and hungry when in court. He is NOT professional at all, and hopefully in the future, if he has personal ties with someone involved in the case, he will recuse himself because of a conflict of interest. I have talked to other about this and have heard the same things from a lot of people, "he is less than competant to be handling family court cases"... if you can get a different judge on your case in genesee county I suggest you and your lawyer try your best to do so!

Anonymous said...

I used an attorney recommended by another attorney (never do this)for a case. David Burgess, could not ever have gone to law school as he was so imcompetent (even the judge commented on it) or he was just totally unethical and threw the case for his friend. All around I have not heard a good thing about him ever!

The Cromer Law Group said...

The article is very informative. I agree with your topic since such online lawyer rating service directly and indirectly effects attorney status. Hope that you will continue with the kind of stuff you are doing.

Anonymous said...

ATTORNEY SCOTT MOORE OUT OF CLARE COUNTY MICHIGAN IS KNOWN FOR BEING UNTRUSTWORTHY. HE REPRESENTED A LADY WHO CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES WERE WRONGFULLY TRYING TO TAKE HER KIDS. Scott Moore court appointed attorney who CPS told the mother works with them had the mother meet with Jim for there first meeting ever at the CPS office! Hello,there the enemy...Scott Moore is a sell out and untrustworthy.

Anonymous said...

AVVO how to you have a lawyer rating system without including comments of former clients like physicians do from their patients? Who knows best about a lawyer than a person they represented.

Anonymous said...

My comment is regarding Judge Michael Thiele in Genesee County Family Division. He is terrible during a case on 7/1/14 he stated in open court his discuss that he had against gay lifestyles and how unethical they were. This judge continues to not only discrimenate against gay men but men in general. Even after a Licensed attorney lied in open court to the judge and the judge received prof and acknowleged, he still sided with the Attorney whom got caught lieing.He is not fit to be a judge, anyone whom has even remotly spoken against him he has been vindictive to.

Anonymous said...

Do not hire Robert H. German attorney at German and German.

I retained Robert German attorney-at-law for a case where all monies were paid in full. After the final decision was rendered by the judge, which was not to my expectation considering the plea was not followed by the judge or the P.A., my lawyer contacts me and says that there is something more he can do if I can pay him 5k. I told him I had already paid him over 25k and would only be willing to pay half $2500) now and half later if something could really be done. He promised that by accessing copies of the transcripts of the court proceedings he could take steps to change the already decided outcome. He received all transcripts and has not helped us since. He has sent one email during this 6 mos. telling us that we should be happy with the decision. He also stated that the paperwork was ready and he just needed my signature. I have the email of this conversation. It has been six months since paying him this additional fee and he has refused our phone calls and emails. To me this seems like malpractice of which warrants my grievance against this lawyer. I have asked for a refund several times and sent one last email telling him he has until December 3rd to act then I would be terminating our client attorney relationship and seeking further help in getting my money back.

Christina said...

This comment is regarding Judge Theile as well. I agree completely with what everyone else is saying. He is personal friends with Chuck Desotelle. His wife, Kristy Theile, works at the Court as well. She is 25 years younger than him, with 2 young girls from a previous marriage and they were married to each other within the last 2 years. He also knows Daniel Andoni and Jodi Lyn Hemingway - just to name a couple. I have seen this conflict of interest first hand and it goes unpunished because they know it would be hard to prove. But I have hard evidence. And if anyone has had an unfair court case with him, PLEASE contact me at I will forward you everything you need. Pictures, Facebook can find it yourself too if you look up "Kristy Theile" on Facebook. It's sickening and he is not at all competent to be handling any family law cases, let alone any case with his complete disregard for ethics. It's time that someone stands up to this and hopefully someone or all of us can put a stop to this nonsense.

Bill said...

Neil Rockind, located in Southfield, Michigan is an excellent defense attorney who did a great job in getting my OWI charge dismissed in Oakland County. His skills and knowledge of the law neutralized the prosecution. I am extremely grateful for his help.

Anonymous said...

Judge Theile has an ovbious political agenda and bias in his cases. He also appoints his homosexual guardian Shayla Blankenship to decide where children go and she goes with whichever home they will be most likely to vote democrat and follow her political suit without considering the effects this has on the children. Something needs to change in Genesee county.

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