Mark Britton is dishonest
Mark Britton ~ the founder
of Avvo ~ is the King of Lawyer Bashing,
Big Money stands behind Avvo. Mark Britton originally persuaded some combination
of investors to pony up $10 million when he launched Avvo, and today Avvo is backed by DAG Ventures, Benchmark, and
Ignition Partners. I would expect big money people to be concerned first and foremost about their money. Are
these venture capital companies willing to play Russian Roulette with their investment? Are these venture capital
firms willing to defend, support and give carte blanche to a crew of superficial clowns whose business goal has become "retaliation against critics?"
I have no problem in believing that Mark Britton and his motley crew are superficial clowns, but it would be
an interesting revelation if it turns out that DAG Ventures, Benchmark, and Ignition Partners are more interested
in tolerating Mark Britton's dishonesty and less interested in protecting their financial investments!
The Washington, D.C. Bar Association ("the D.C. Bar Web Site Notice") recently published an item on its web site about Avvo's
disregard of its policy on obtaining and using information from its data base. The DC Bar has not entered into any agreements with Avvo, and
Avvo has obtained DC Bar member information "in violation of our restrictions on use." The DC Bar explicitly
forbids commercial companies ~ including Avvo ~ from entering its web site and taking the listed information.
In clear violation of that policy, Avvo has entered the DC Bar website and taken names, business addresses,
business telephone numbers, dates of admission, membership status and published this information and used it
to solicit DC Bar members. Avvo refuses
requests from DC Bar Members to be removed from Avvo's web site. The DC Bar has asked Avvo to remove all
improperly acquired DC Bar membership information and to cease using improperly acquired information for
Avvo's commercial purposes.
Avvo offers "Free Legal Advice." However, what Avvo's law clients are getting is a general exposition on the law or what legal scholars would
call black letter law which may be true in general. Avvo's law clients will frequently read the message:
"You really should consult an attorney in your community." If that is the case, why not refer the client at the outset
to the state or county Lawyer Referral Service or Legal Aid or face-to-face meetings with lawyers on May Day in
community shopping centers. Avvo is doing a disservice to the public, and "members of the pubic" are laboring under the
misconception that Avvo is offering "free legal services."
Lawyers spend three years in law school listening to law professors
asking again and again: "How do you distinguish Case A from Case B and from Case C?" It is the heart of legal
analysis and problem solving to "distinguish" cases. Black letter law ~ what the Avvo web site offers and calls
"free legal advice" is a general rule that applies to many cases but not necessarily to all situations.
Black letter law is not based on a dynamic relationship between a lawyer and a client. A black letter law solution might be a starting point but it is not a carefully crafted specific course of conduct ~ black letter law is likely to be a shot in the dark.
When competent lawyers give legal advice to their clients, the advice is based on listening, questioning, listening, and
questioning ~ the lawyer is probing so that he can distinguish this client's case from general rules and move
beyond black letter law. Avvo's free legal advice is a fiction. Avvo merely offers black letter law solutions
Mark Britton claims that his
Avvo web site enables him to shine his flashlight into dark places, however, Mark Britton needs to shine his
flashlight in his own face and stand in front of a mirror.
If Mark Britton were an honest man,
he would announce:
"We do not offer free legal advice.
We sincerely apologize for Avvo's earlier and previous
misrepresentations about giving free legal advice.
Consult your attorney or call you local Lawyer Referral
Service available through your state or local bar association.
Avvo only offers a black letter law exposition which
applies in general to many situations. Good luck
with your legal questions, Best Regards, Mark Britton."
Quite frankly, I would not hire Mark Britton to push a broom. Quite
frankly, Mark Britton's financial backers need to think about protecting their integrity in the marketplace. Quite frankly,
Avvo's financial backers need to remove Mark Britton and
install a business person who recognizes that there are boundaries when you are trafficking in human pain.