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Mark Britton

Avvo Founder and Former CEO
Seattle, Washington

Mark   Britton's   sad   rating:  
Avvo   Watch   score = .01

1. Fidelity to the Law~Not Worthy of Mention
2. "Outwardly Pleasant  and  Inwardly Murderous"

Just think of the trees that would still be standing if Mark Britton had never scribbled his name on a law school application; had never scribbled his company's name on every lawyer's biography page in the United States; and had never polluted the internet with his Avvo.com web site.

It is not difficult to explain Mark Britton's rating of ".01". For Mr. Britton, the prototypical successful lawyer, the lawyer who boasts an Avvo 10, is an empty head ~ a history without dignity, a comedy without laughter, a tragedy without tears. Mark Britton's web site rewards cruelty and degrades nobility. Avvo.com is a House of Desolation.

When we refer to the Avvo 10 person, we include Mark Britton because he had originally published his Avvo biography page with an Avvo 10 score until Avvo Watch launched its initial critique of Mr. Britton and his Avvo.com web site. Shortly after, Mr. Britton lowered his score to 9.6 and subsequently to 9.2 and finally to 9.0. We have never underestimated Mark Britton's chameleon-like ability to change his colors.

Avvo.com confers the Avvo 10 score on lawyers with extraordinary self-confidence whose self-love sprouts up from the unconscious like fierce tropical foilage and who are willing to portray themselves as pioneers who were born in a covered wagon pointed West and who grew up in the foothills of the mountains where the peaks companion with stars. These people hold themselves out as name-brand merchandise and their resumes are distinguished by their weight, ripeness and plenitude. Thus, Mark Britton creates the illusion of legitimacy through posturing and gimmickry.

Mr. Britton frequently says that his web site enables him to shine a flashlight into dark places. Truth be told, however, Mark Britton needs to shine his flashlight in his own face and stand in front of a mirror.

Mark Britton has recently added a new feature to his web site to deflect attention from his "free legal advice" fiasco. Now Mr. Britton offers a program of paid legal advice ~ Avvo Advisor ~ with a "money-back guarantee." Apparently, Mr. Britton believes that he can sprinkle a little pixie dust on his nightmare and eliminate ethical problems inherent in offering free legal advice (coupled with his cleverly footnoted denial which says that free legal advice is not really legal advice).

However, Mr. Britton overlooks the fact that lawyers and law firms live in existential dread of any effort to make their legal fees refundable on demand. This so-called "money-back guarantee" which is now published on Avvo.com's web site promises the consumer subjective satisfaction ~ thus, the participating lawyers' legal fees evaporate in front of their eyes like a handful of seafoam. In rehetoric, in fact and in policy, Mark Britton's "money back guarantee" is nothing more than a unsuccessful "Charm Offensive" to cover up and provide contrast to his flawed program which boasts "free legal advice" above the fold and then hastily retreats with the suggestion below the fold that free legal advice is not really legal advice.

When he cobbles together "free legal advice" with "paid legal advice," Mark Britton's intellectual scaffolding comes tumbling down on the heads of Digital Natives who visit the Avvo.com web site. Upshot: ~ Avvo.com is a bundle of contradictions which gives the reader an attack of vertigo.

How, then, does Avvo make money for its investors and shareholders? Avvo makes its money selling advertising. In order to circumvent the problems ~ notably ethical problems ~ associated with its original scheme of free legal advice, Avvo has introduced a program called Avvo Advisor which is an on demand 15 minute telephone consultation session with an Avvo member lawyer that costs $39 and is available presently in 18 states. Make no mistake about it, however, Avvo makes nearly all of its money selling advertising space on its website, and the advertsing space is purchased by lawyers who are promoting their brands ~ credential kiting and self-aggrandizement. Avvo is not supported by legal fees. Avvo is well aware that it is creating the false impression ~ a pure fiction ~ that it is supported by consumers who are paying legal fees for legal advice. Avvo Advisor is a pale imitation of the robust revenues that are generated by selling advertising space to lawyers who love to hear the sound of their own names.

If Mark Britton truly believes that Avvo will ever earn significant money from legal fees paid by consumers, then Mark Britton is economically illiterate.

A good review of the above photo of Maxwell Smart and his shoe phone is to point out that this photo symbolizes and typifies superficial clowns like Mark Britton. The world was entertained by Maxwell Smart's shoe phone, and we find an insightful parallel between Maxwell Smart's photo and Mark Britton's Avvo business enterprise. Like Mark Britton, Maxwell Smart appears cocky and self-confident, but his shoe phone illustrates his true achievement in making a connection with technology. Carry on Mr. Smart ... Carry on Mr. Britton.

Mr. Britton is indeed a comical figure, and it would be easy to designate him and his enterprise as "Rufus Cornpone and his Team Avvo" but legal scholars must not lose sight of the fact that Mark Britton and his Team Avvo are a malign influence on the legal profession. By trampling on the weak and the downtrodden, Mr. Britton and his Team Avvo transform strong lawyers into a selfish lot of men and women whose legacy is lack of hope and lack of generosity. When we expose Mark Britton's tactic of "lawyer bashing" we are not talking about discipline ~ we are talking about Britton's success in damaging redemption as a core value in the law.

Sadly, we live in a world in which sociopathic people are being increasingly rewarded, and in that world and in that context Mark Britton is an enabler. Mark Britton has persuaded the American legal profession to dumb down and water down its ethical and scholarly standards so that lawyers can now sell their brand and grow their practices by lawyer bashing and by peddling "free legal advice" with the added bonus of "lawyer ratings" based on self-aggrandizement. Sociopathic people ~ sociopathic lawyers and sociopathic consumers of legal services ~ gravitate to that model.

A few short years ago ~ in the early 1960's ~ the Washington State Bar News would publish a brief note at the end of the year informing its readership that "There were ____ [fill in the number] reprimands this year" without publishing lawyers' names or the details of their offenses. Today, of course, the Bar News publishes names and summarizes the offenses ~ justifying its stain on lawyers with the shibboleth that the Bar must earn the confidence of the public and punish offenders. Mark Britton and his Team Avvo ensure with the zeal of barbaric tribalism that the stain is a lifelong humiliation. Mark Britton does not physically kill human beings, but he does kill the emotions that make their lives productive and worth living. Thus, Avvo.com is a House of Desolation.

The study of law and the practice of law can be and should be a spiritual pilgrimmage leading to a cleansing introspection and renewed self-esteem. When Mark Britton transforms the legal profession into commercial self-promotion in search of "the good life," however, the legal profession becomes a hideous parody of itself. When Nietzsche perceived this corruption of the soul, he proclaimed the superman. Mark Britton is less perceptive than Nietzsche but he is equally despairing. Just as Nietzsche had proclaimed the superman, Mark Britton has now proclaimed the "Avvo 10 Lawyer." Mark Britton misses the meaning of Grace at the precise moment when he had the opportunity to grasp it.

This is your hour, Mark Britton, The hour of shadows.