Verdict is in: Online legal marketplace Avvo lands new funding

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by RENAY SAN MIGUEL / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on April 23, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Opening arguments for Avvo began with its launch in 2007 as a one-stop shop for those needing a lawyer. Since then the company, which was founded by a former Expedia general counsel, has made a strong business case for itself.

"When you start a company from scratch, there's nothing more horrifying that you'll do in your life," said founder and CEO Mark Britton. "I spent a lot of sleeples nights saying 'I want this, I need this to work.' I asked eight to nine people from Expedia to join me in this dream and they have families, they put their own work and money on the line."

All of that has paid off for Avvo, which bills itself as the web's largest legal marketplace. The company, with offices next to Safeco and Century Link Fields, provides free legal advice 24/7 to consumers from more than 160,000 participating lawyers -- including 60 percent of all attorneys in Washington state.

Its directory has profiles of lawyers, client reviews and peer recommendations, which has led to many comparisons to Yelp. But Avvo also has products that help attorneys market themselves and tell their stories online.

All of that has resulted in an average of six million visits per month, more than 7 million Avvo Ratings on 97 percent of all U.S. lawyers, and a fresh new funding round of $37.5 million.

Yet Britton said Avvo was profitable last year. So how will he and his Avvo team use the new funding?

"We have all this content that helps the consumer make better legal decisions, so we said, 'Hey, let's take this money and continue to build out our Q-and-A, build out our directory, but then also there are some products that we're not quite ready to announce yet that relate to getting consumers more information and better guidance, and also helps great lawyers get more business."

Britton says those products should start showing up in its next quarter. In the meantime, almost everyone from the original team from Expedia that helped him launch Avvo is still around.

"It is so gratifying. We have 150 people sitting out there in our office that have one mission: helping people navigate the legal profession and getting great lawyers more business," he said.

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