I am ambivalent about Avvo and here is why.

As the son of a lawyer, I kind of knew about Martindale-Hubbell ratings.  As a new lawyer, I knew that I wanted that Av Martindale-Hubbell rating.  It meant that my peers thought highly of my work and ethics.  When I first received the rating, I told my dad and I was quite proud.  When I had a partner, the law firm had an Av rating.  Then the internet came along.

The internet wants to democratize everything.  Who cares what lawyers think about other lawyers?  Let’s let everyone rank everyone else.  Also, let’s let clients rate their lawyers the same way Yelpers rate a takeout Korean barbecue joint.  I wasn’t a fan of this, but Avvo forced me to participate.  Why? Because if I didn’t, my rating would languish somewhere around “meh”.

I soon figured out, though, that the Avvo numerical rating may use some of the consumer input, but without any input I could make my number rise.  I put in my educational background, significant cases, CLE articles and lectures, which all increased my rating.  My current Avvo rating is a 9.9 “superb”.  My wife, by the way, still thinks I’m “meh” but I don’t think that has to do with my lawyering.

Back to Avvo.  So I don’t put much stock in Avvo’s 9.9 assessment of me or walk around with a big LED sign over my head saying “superb” like the pig in Charlotte’s Web.  Instead, I just let it sit there.  But I have clients that found my Avvo page.  This is what causes the ambivalence.

When I finish a case, the client usually says “thank you” and we move on.  The closing papers are filed or signed.  We send out any trust account funds and, unless the client has another problem, we don’t hear from the client again.  Avvo has changed that.  Three clients have said some of the nicest things anyone (who isn’t my mother) has said about a lawyer, let alone about me.  The internet, unfiltered, facilitated compliments from clients that reminded me why I like being a lawyer.  The most recent comment was written by a client whom I last represented in 2009.  I haven’t heard from the client in years.  But the things the client wrote meant a lot.

I’m used to reading all the vile and mean stuff that commenters have written in response to articles in the local or national papers.  I’ve seen the stories about the online bullying done through Facebook and elsewhere.  But to have three people take the time to tell the world (or at least the world that looks on my Avvo listing) about their experience with me, that’s what causes the ambivalence.  Because I don’t think Avvo should call me “superb” just because I gave them lots of info for my listing.  But those three clients, they all gave me five stars.  If I was a barbecue joint, people would be lining up around the corner after seeing the ratings on Yelp.

My advice is don’t rely on numeric or star ratings.  They aren’t the guarantee of success or failure.  On the other hand, if you like the lawyer and he or she is competent and cares, that’s what should matter.  Then tell the world on Avvo.

That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida.  I’m Marc Dobin and I don’t feel “superb”.

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Dobin Law Group interviewed on VOIP use.

Well, it didn’t involve lights and cameras, more like an informative email exchange. Our VOIP provider, OnSip, asked me a few questions and turned it into a blog post here.

I did receive my first web- based call yesterday. It would have been more exciting if I had been here to answer it. But I was running late and missed the call. Still, it was cool to know that someone used it.

VOIP is certainly the wave of the near future. At least until they embed phones in our hand or head. And now it’s beginning to look like my embedded fax machine joke won’t be imitated in real life. Oh well.

That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. I’m Marc Dobin.

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Here’s a brilliant idea – a power outlet with USB Power.

I am so jealous that I didn’t think of this. A friend of mine sent me this link.

Outlet with USB Power

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this. My wife thought I was an idiot when I came up with the idea of a remote control thermostat. Look who’s the idiot now!
This will be a great item. I wish them much success and I will be buying a bunch.
To all my friends “up north” – stay warm. You could use this to power your USB-powered coffee mug warmer.
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Breaking up is hard to do – Untangling one’s self in the Internet world.

Here’s something that one didn’t worry about 10 years ago. I am trying to unwind myself from Internet links that use my name and refer to my former firm. There is Lawyers.com, Findlaw, Avvo and Justia just to name a few. And that is only the legal-specific sites.

Then there are sites that aggregate data and repeat it on their own site. Sites like Jigsaw, Spoke and others try to piece things together for the user.
And, of course, there are the social networking sites. Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo are the ones I have used the most. So I had to remember usernames and passwords for those (I remember my Facebook and LinkedIn, my Plaxo was a little more difficult) and change all the info.
It’s been said that a couple breaks up when they delete each other’s phone numbers from their phone (of course, this does not appear to be the course of conduct for Tiger Woods). In my case, simply re-establishing my web identity, separate and apart from my former firm, is just another part of the process.
That’s the view from Jupiter in lovely Palm Beach County – I’m Marc Dobin
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Electronic faxing – the wave of the future.

Most people know that I like technology. Even though I spend most of my day dealing with brokerage account statements, confirmations, arbitration claims and the like, it is the technology that makes my life easier. When I decided to re-open Marc S. Dobin, P.A. in Jupiter, Florida, I decided that I would use electronic fax technology.

I researched several services and ultimately settled on UnityFax. It is $4.99 per month, which is noticeably cheaper than a telephone line. It gives me unlimited inbound faxes to four email boxes. And, as long as they stay in business, I can move my office as much as I want and never have to change my fax line. The faxes are high quality and, so far, the service has been excellent.

Keep you eyes on this space as I discuss more about how my office is set up.
That’s the view from Jupiter, I’m Marc Dobin.
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