For my inaugural post on the newly-redesigned Avvoblog, I thought I’d start with everyone’s favorite topic: Terms of Use changes!  “Where,” you ask, “are these ‘Terms of Use’ of which you speak?”  Why, they are everywhere on Avvo–go to the bottom of any page and look for the “Terms of Use” link. Click, and read away.

 

Go ahead, I can wait.

 

Done? Excellent.

 

That lengthy document you just read is the contract governing use of Avvo.  Any site you visit online is likely to have a similar set of their own terms. The Terms of Use (TOUs) are, to put it bluntly, a non-negotiated contract. We set the rules for using Avvo, and our users are expected to follow them. It’s true for consumers, lawyers, and our paying subscribers alike.

 

That may sound draconian, but it makes sense.  Web interactivity can’t be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.  As long as a website’s terms are reasonable and expected, users should have little cause to complain.

 

One difficult thing about TOUs, however, is the necessity of updates. Things change a lot online, and TOUs need to be updated accordingly. Such updates are typically minor tweaks, but sometimes they involve major changes. And how do you let ongoing users know? After all, it’s one thing to have a non-negotiated contract, but shouldn’t users have some means of finding out if things have changed?

 

Interestingly, the most commonly used provision for changes to website TOUs is that changes can be made without notice, and continued use of the website indicates agreement to those changes.  While that’s not terribly problematic for a lot of users, or when dealing with minor tweaks, it seems a bit heavy-handed when larger changes or being made. Several years ago, we tried to address this by changing our TOUs to say that we would provide updates here—on the Avvoblog—when we made changes to the Avvo TOUs. We may also provide notice of major changes via email or the like, but I wanted to provide a simple means for those who cared about our TOUs to get notified about changes.

 

So–subscribe to the blog, and you not only get great Web product thinking but also notification whenever Avvo updates its TOU. Sweet deal, right?

 

Without further ado, then, here is notification of our latest change. We’ve updated the TOUs, effective 3/1/2013. It’s a minor change in sections 8 and 22 to reflect Avvo’s new Legal Marketplace product and clarify the conditions under which Avvo can terminate permission to use the Avvo site and services. At some point we may also add a revision view (or use Docracy to do so) so users can more easily see the specific changes. Stay tuned…

2 Comments

Mark Stephens on May 13, 2013  ·  Reply

Please screen out posts from lawyers not licensed in the state generating the question. And quit boosting the rankings of lawyers who say “seek experienced legal counsel in your area” over and over. Your customers should expect more from my profession and more accurate rankings. I’ve seen lawyers with “10″ rankings I wouldn’t let handle a parking ticket. I am given the same “points” it seems for 2 unanimous wins in my State Supreme Court as lawyers who have posted “charge dismissed” as a highlight.

Josh King on May 13, 2013  ·  Reply

Please read this for more information on how the Avvo Rating is calculated:http://www.avvo.com/support/avvo_rating

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