Attorney FAQ for Avvo Legal Services

FAQ topics include:

  • How it works
  • Registration and your account
  • Setting your availability
  • Ethics
  • Getting paid

How it works

What is Avvo Legal Services?

Avvo Legal Services is a range of fixed-fee, limited-scope legal services determined by Avvo and fulfilled by local attorneys. Avvo defines the services and prices. Attorneys choose which services they would like to offer in their geographical area. Local clients purchase legal services, choose the attorney they want to work with, and pay the full price for the service up front. The chosen attorney then completes the service for the client and is paid the full legal fee. As a separate transaction, the chosen attorney pays a per-service marketing fee for the completed, paid service. Attorney participation is governed by the Avvo Legal Services Terms.

What types of services can I offer?

You can choose to offer services like a 15- or 30-minute advice session, legal document review, or immigration application review. There are also start-to-finish services such as: start a single-member LLC, apply for US citizenship, create a residential lease, create a living trust (individual), and file for uncontested divorce. As part of the signup process, you choose which services you want to offer from the full menu of available services.

Do I have to offer all of the services in my practice area?

No. You may choose to offer all, a few, or just 1 of the services—it’s completely up to you. You can change your selections at any time if a service isn’t benefiting your practice.

Will clients be local to my area?

Yes. Avvo Legal Services is only marketed to potential clients who are looking for legal help in your geographical area.

How do advice sessions work?

You can offer 15-minute advice sessions, 30-minute advice sessions, or both.

  1. Choose your services. Once you sign up, choose which advice sessions you want to offer. 15-minute and 30-minute advice sessions are currently available in practice areas such as business, family, immigration, estate planning, and real estate.
  2. A client buys a service. The client selects the advice session that fits their needs and pays the full price up front. Potential clients can either choose a specific attorney they want to talk to within 1 business day or choose to speak to the next available attorney within 15 minutes. If the client chooses to speak to the next available attorney, we send a text message to the available attorneys in that client's geographic area and practice area. The first attorney to respond to the text message receives the client's contact information.
  3. Call your new client. If the client has chosen you, specifically, you will receive their contact information and you have 1 business day to call your new client. If the client chooses to speak to the next available attorney and you successfully respond first, you have 15-minutes to call your new client. In both situations, call your client within the required time frame to answer their questions and give them legal advice for their situation.
  4. You get paid. You’re paid the full legal fee into your deposits account. The payment is $39 for a 15-minute advice session or $69 for a 30-minute advice session.
  5. You pay a marketing fee. As a separate transaction, we withdraw the per-service marketing fee from your withdrawals account. The fee is $10 for a 15-minute advice session or $25 for a 30-minute advice session.

How do document review services work?

  1. Choose your services. Once you sign up, choose which document review services you want to offer. Examples include a non-disclosure agreement, US citizenship application, parenting plan, eviction notice, and power of attorney (individual).
  2. A client buys a service. The client selects the service that fits their needs, pays the full price up front, and chooses you as the attorney they want to work with.
  3. Review the document. We send you the client’s information and their legal document. Review their document and note any errors, changes they should make, follow up questions you have for the client, or concerns they should think about. You do not edit the document.
  4. Call your new client within 1 business day. You have 1 business day to call your new client for a 30-minute discussion of their document. Answer their questions, suggest changes or things they should consider, and give them legal advice for their situation. If the client is not the right fit, you can decline the service by text message or by emailing services@avvo.com. We will take care of the client and you are free from obligation.
  5. You get paid. You’re paid the full legal fee into your deposits account. The payment is $149 - $595, depending on the service.
  6. You pay a marketing fee. As a separate transaction, we withdraw a per-service marketing fee from your withdrawals account. Fees are $40 - $150, depending on the service.

How do start-to-finish services work?

Services that require longer engagements with clients work like this:

  1. Choose your services. Once you sign up, choose which services you want to offer. Examples include: start an LLC, apply for US citizenship, file for uncontested divorce, create a commercial lease agreement, and create a living trust (couple).
  2. A client buys a service. The client selects the service that fits their needs, pays the full price up front, and chooses you as the attorney they want to work with.
  3. Make your introductory call within 1 business day. You have 1 business day to call your new client for a 30-minute introductory call. Use the call to confirm the client is the right fit for the service and for your practice. If so, continue working with your new client as you would any other paying client. If the client is not the right fit, you can decline the service by text message or by emailing services@avvo.com. We will take care of the client and you are free from obligation.
  4. You get paid. If you and the client decide to continue working together after the introductory call, you’ll be paid the full legal fee for the service into your deposits account. Prices for these services vary from $295 for services like creating a last will and testament (individual), up to $2995 for preparing and filing a family green card application. Any applicable filing fees are not included in the price of the service; clients should pay those separately.
  5. You pay a marketing fee. As a separate transaction, we withdraw a per-service marketing fee from your withdrawals account. Fees are $40 - $400, depending on the service.

How do attorneys display in the Avvo Legal Services store?

After choosing the service they need, potential clients enter their location and then see a list of attorneys in their area. Attorneys are displayed randomly in the store and the list is reshuffled at least once every hour.

How do I check for conflict of interest?

When a client buys a service, you will receive their full name along with their contact information. You should also begin any call with a new client with the standard questions you normally use to check for conflict of interest.

Can I ask clients to sign my representation agreement?

Yes, and we encourage it. Most attorneys use their existing representation agreement template, updated to reflect what’s included and excluded in each Avvo service. Make sure your agreement aligns with the Avvo Legal Services Terms.

What if the client needs more help, beyond the scope of the service?

Scope is obviously very important for these services, which is why we suggest you have clients sign your representation before moving forward with any start-to-finish services. Your agreement hopefully states what will happen in the event the work goes out of scope—we leave the details up to each attorney; just make sure your arrangement doesn't violate the Avvo Legal Services Terms.

No matter how you handle additional fees—hourly rates or an additional fixed fee—you can tell the client that the work they need is beyond the purchased service. This should also be clear from the list of what's included and excluded on the Avvo service's details page.

If they want to hire you for the extra work, you can arrange payment directly with them. If the purchased service isn't right for them—for example, they buy an uncontested divorce but it turns out it is contested—you or the client can decline the service and we will refund the client's money.

Can I refer clients to my private practice for further work?

We encourage you to continue professional contact with clients if they require additional work beyond their purchased service and want to keep working with you. However, do not use the purchased service as a sales pitch. The client has already paid for your time and a specific legal service.

Where will client reviews display?

Verified client reviews will appear in the Avvo Legal Services store and on your Avvo profile.

Registration and your account

Am I eligible to sign up?

Avvo Legal Services is currently available in these US states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

To participate, you also need to list 1 or more of the following practice areas on your Avvo profile, at 10% or more of your practice area total.

  • Bankruptcy and debt
  • Business
  • Criminal defense
  • Divorce and separation
  • Family
  • Estate planning
  • Immigration
  • Landlord or tenant
  • Real estate

If you need to update your practice area percentages, simply edit your Avvo profile.

We're expanding to new areas quickly. Email us at services@avvo.com if you’re interested in participating but have not yet received an invitation.

How do I sign up?

  1. Click “join today” on the attorney enrollment page.
  2. Provide your mobile number. We send you a text message when a new client is awaiting your call.
  3. Link a bank account for deposits—this is probably your client trust or IOLTA account. Once a month, we'll deposit your client payments for all completed services into this account.
  4. Link a bank account for withdrawals—this should be your operating account. Once a month, we'll withdraw the per-service marketing fees for your paid, completed services from this account.
  5. Provide your tax information. Once a year, we'll send you a 1099.
  6. Confirm your mobile number and, if necessary, verify your bank account.
  7. Choose which services you want to offer on Avvo.

Is there a cost to join or monthly fee to participate?

No. There is no cost to join and no monthly subscription. You only pay a marketing fee for each completed service. If you don't complete any services, you don't pay anything.

Do I have to commit to a certain length of time?

No. You can opt-out of services at any time if they’re not benefiting your practice. Simply update your services on your Avvo Legal Services dashboard.

Can I cancel my account if I decide this isn’t for me?

Yes. You can opt out of all services at any time through your Avvo Legal Services dashboard. We can also delete your account for you—just send us an email at services@avvo.com.

Setting your availability

What if I go on vacation—can I pause my services?

Yes. In addition to choosing which services you want to offer, you can also control your availability. For example, you may want to offer document review services in general, but not this week because you’re out of town or your practice is too busy. To solve this, you can turn your availability off by texting STOP to the Avvo phone number or using the on / off button on your Avvo Legal Services dashboard.

Turning your availability off does 2 things:

  1. It removes you from the list of attorneys offering each service within the Avvo Legal Services store.
  2. It removes your fixed-fee services from your Avvo profile.

When you turn your availability back on, you will reappear in the store and services will reappear on your profile within 1 hour.

How do I control my availability?

When you sign up, you get a text from Avvo to confirm your mobile number. You can control your availability by sending a text message to that same Avvo phone number. Text STOP when you're unavailable and do not wish to take new clients. Text START when you want to resume taking new clients. You may also set your availability on your Avvo Legal Services dashboard by using the on / off button.

What if a client buys a service with me but I'm not available?

If you are unexpectedly busy and won't be able to call your client within the required 1 business day, you can decline the service by text message or by emailing services@avvo.com. You may also want to turn your availability off by texting STOP to the Avvo number or selecting off in your Avvo Legal Services dashboard.

Ethics

Is this a lawyer referral service?

No. Avvo is not referring people to a particular lawyer. Potential clients choose which attorney they would like to work with from all available, participating attorneys.

Should I be concerned about fee-splitting?

No. Avvo always sends you 100% of the client’s payment to the account you've chosen for deposits—probably your client trust account. As a separate transaction, you will pay a per-service marketing fee from your operating account. As a completely separate transaction, you will pay a per-service marketing fee.

We know this issue is extremely important to participating attorneys. Here’s what ethics expert and Avvo's Chief Legal Officer Josh King says on the matter:

"Fee splits are not inherently unethical. They only become a problem if the split creates a situation that may compromise a lawyer’s professional independence of judgment. We believe that Avvo Legal Services fees, if deducted like credit card fees, would involve the sort of technical fee split that would not create such a potential for compromise. Nonetheless, we have tried to keep things simple and clear by making the per-service marketing fee a separate charge from your operating account.”

Getting paid

Is there a monthly fee to participate?

No. You only pay a marketing fee for each completed service. If you don't complete any services, you don't pay anything.

Does Avvo charge a marketing fee?

Yes. Because Avvo is creating the marketplace and advertising on your behalf, we charge a per-service marketing fee for each completed service. This fee is withdrawn from the bank account you choose for withdrawals—this should be your operating account.

The amount depends on the service, and ranges from a $10 marketing fee for a $39 service, to $40 marketing fee for a $149 service, up to a $400 marketing fee for a $2995 service.

For example, if a client purchases a $149 document review service with you, you will be paid the full $149 client payment into your deposits account. As a separate transaction, you will be charged a $40 marketing fee from your withdrawals account.

How does Avvo know that the call is complete and I should get paid?

When a client buys your service, we'll send you their name and a phone number to call. That phone number is a tracked number that redirects to the client's real phone number. Our system will only send you payment if the tracked number is called. So if a client calls you directly after they buy your service, you must tell them you'll call them back, then call them using the provided number. If you don't call the number we give you, you will not be paid for the service.

How do I get paid?

On the 7th of each month, we will transfer all client payments from your previous month’s services into the account you've chosen for deposits—probably your client trust or IOLTA account. You are paid 100% of the client payments. As a separate transaction, we will withdraw the per-service marketing fees from the account you've chosen for withdrawals—this should be your operating account.

For example, a lawyer who successfully completes 3 $149 document review services in the month of February will see 2 separate transactions on their bank statement in March: a deposit of $447 ($149/service x 3 services) into their deposits account, and a withdrawal of $120 ($40 marketing fee/service x 3 services) from their withdrawals account.

What form of payment does Avvo use?

When you sign up, you will be asked to connect 2 bank accounts. We need 1 account for depositing client payments—this is probably your client trust or IOLTA account. We also need 1 account from which to withdraw per-service marketing fees—this should be your operating account.

Once a month, we'll deposit 100% of your client payments earned in the previous month into your deposits account. From your withdrawals account, we'll withdraw all of the per-service marketing fees for each completed, paid service.

Does this count as fee-splitting?

No. As mentioned in the ethics section of this FAQ, we always send the entire legal fee paid by the client to the account you've chosen for deposits—likely your client trust or IOLTA account. The per-service marketing fee is a completely separate transaction, from a separate bank account you've chosen for withdrawals—most likely your operating account.

We know this is extremely important to participating attorneys. Here’s what ethics expert and Avvo's Chief Legal Officer Josh King says on the matter:

"Fee splits are not inherently unethical. They only become a problem if the split creates a situation that may compromise a lawyer’s professional independence of judgment. We believe that Avvo Legal Services fees, if deducted like credit card fees, would involve the sort of technical fee split that would not create such a potential for compromise. Nonetheless, we have tried to keep things simple and clear by making the per-service marketing fee a separate charge from your operating account.”

Will Avvo send me a 1099 form?

Yes. When you sign up, you provide your tax information in a substitute W-9 form. Once a year, we'll send you a 1099.

Who sets the price of each service?

Avvo sets the price of each service.

Are filing fees included in the price?

No, filing fees are not included. The Avvo Legal Services store clearly states that filing fees are not included in the price of the service, but you can also reiterate this to your client during your introductory phone call.

Who sets the marketing fee?

Avvo sets the marketing fee for each service.

Will I still get paid if a client requests a refund?

If you do not deliver the agreed upon service, you will not be paid for the service. You will not be charged a marketing fee for the incomplete service. There may be some instances in which we refund an unhappy client but you are still paid for completed work, up to the standard outlined in the Avvo Legal Services Terms.

If you have a question about a refunded service, contact us at services@avvo.com.

What is Stripe?

Stripe is the secure payment system that we use to pay you money. Stripe also powers the checkout process for clients. Similar payment providers include PayPal and Square.

Sign up for Avvo Legal Services

More questions?

  • Sign up for an Avvo Legal Services webinar to hear from our team, including Chief Legal Officer Josh King, and ask your questions during a live Q&A. You can also watch a webinar replay.
  • Email us at services@avvo.com or call us at (425) 305-4774.