According to Bernstein, who practices family and residential real estate law, the attorneys who were sold advertising space on her profile page practice “in the same geographic location and in the same practice areas” as her.
In his complaint, Darsky admits that Avvo’s attorney listings “may be a permissible First Amendment exercise.” However, he claims, “Avvo’s business practices go far beyond that mere exercise” by using the names and likenesses of the attorneys in their directory, without their consent, to sell advertising or marketing services to other attorneys.
A lawyer can claim the profile and manage the information that is listed or simply leave it alone.
The profiles, in and of themselves, generate no revenue for Avvo, the lawsuits claim.
Essentially, both lawsuits allege that Avvo has been using the identities and likenesses of attorneys who do not advertise or market on to generate revenue without the attorneys’ consent. You can read a PDF of the complaint here (as posted by the University of Santa Clara School of Law). You can read a PDF of the complaint posted here by the ABA Journal.
You should watch these cases as they develop to see if they end up striking at the heart of Avvo’s business model – or fare as poorly as previous claims against the company. Darsky, filed the first lawsuit in December 2015 in the U. District Court for the Northern District of California. Moria Bernstein, a Chicago attorney, filed the second lawsuit in February 2016 in Illinois’ Cook County Circuit Court. You can also see the docket at the Cook County Circuit Court website.
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