2018 has started with a bang in the world of legal directories, with the massive news that US online lawyer giant Avvo has been acquired by Martindale-Hubbell owner, Internet Brands.
Announced today – January 11 2018 – Avvo will join Internet Brands’ expanding portfolio of online legal products, which as well as Martindale Hubbell (acquired in 2013) incudes Nolo (acquired 2011), Total Attorneys, Lawyers.com, Attorney Locate, and AllLaw.com.
The Avvo acquisition is the culmination of a remarkable push into the legal sector by Internet Brands, which only entered the industry in 2010 after making its name in other sectors such as automotive (Cars Direct) and health (Web MD).
Founded in 2006 in Seattle by former Expedia general counsel Mark Britton, Avvo has grown to become the largest US lawyer directory in recent years, and one of the most heavily trafficked legal websites in the market.
Avvo attracts more than 100 million annual visits to its website and mobile apps, and lists most of the practicing lawyers in the US (over a million), of which more than 300,000 are active Avvo users.
Driven by the vision of Britton and his team, Avvo has been a constant innovator – beginning life as a traditional lawyer directory but soon morphing into a more comprehensive offering, comprising attorney profiles, Q&A forums, and educational content for consumers.
The hallmark of the Avvo directory is a proprietary rating system that rates each lawyer from 1 to 10 using a mathematical model that considers a lawyer’s years in practice, disciplinary history, professional achievement, and industry recognition.
According to the official media release, the Avvo brand will be retained following completion of the acquisition, and Avvo will continue to operate from its headquarters in Seattle under the direction of its existing leadership team.
Deal value has not been released but in 2015 after its latest round of venture financing Bloomberg reported that Avvo was valued at around $650 million, and there had been speculation that the company may seek to list on the public markets.
Internet Brands, which also runs sites like apartmentratings.com and frugaltravelguy.com, was founded in 1998 and bought for $640 million in 2010 by Hellman & Friedman and JMI Equity.
Private equity giant KKR stepped in during 2014 to acquire Internet Brands from Hellman & Friedman for $1.1 billion.
Law firm Perkins Coie advised Avvo on the deal.