Avvo, the leading US-based legal directory, has raised a further $37.5 million in financing, and set its sights on international expansion.
Per Avvo’s latest news release:
Avvo closed $37.5 million in financing led by Coatue Management, with additional investment from Benchmark Capital, Ignition Partners and DAG Ventures. Avvo will use the new funding to accelerate product development and marketing, and fuel international expansion. This round brings the total capital raised since Avvo’s inception to $60.5 million.”
The key aspect of this latest news from Avvo is the prospect of the site going international.
Like many US businesses, Avvo’s initial focus was on the large domestic market – unsurprinsgly, since the US legal sector accounts for more than half the world’s total market.
However, it was inevitable that Avvo would seek to expand globally at some point.
I spoke to Avvo founder Mark Britton a few years ago and he told me at the time that while there were no immediate plans, international expansion was something of interest.
In an interview with the Puget Sound Business Journal, Mr.Britton said that countries with an English-style legal system would be a priority.
The UK would be an obvious place to start, with the huge changes taking place in the legal sector, brought about by market liberalization.
Avvo’s challenge when entering a new market, as it was in the US, will be the controversial scoring system that uses an algorithm to rank lawyers on a scale from 1 to 10.
However, Avvo would be able to scale quickly with seven years of product development, market testing, and investment behind them.
Britton has been a tireless advocate for consumers in recent years, believing that directory-style products like Avvo have the power to demystify the legal process, reduce complexity, and make the task of finding the right lawyer much easier.
The Seattle-based company has grown remarkably since its launch and is now one of the most heavily used legal websites in the U.S.
Avvo is now arguably the most comprehensive US lawyer directory – rating 97% of lawyers – and the largest legal Q&A forum and marketplace.
According to Geekwire, Avvo attracts six million visits per month, and about 160,000 attorneys participate on the site, with 99 percent of the legal questions answered.
Originally a lawyer directory, the company soon evolved to become a “question and answer” forum.
Although the directory component of Avvo remains, the emphasis is on encouraging potential clients to leave questions for attorneys – who then respond online.
In 2012, Avvo hived off its healthcare directory to refocus on its core legal service.
The marketplace built on Avvo’s established Q&A forum but matches descriptions of cases to relevant attorneys to help link consumers with the right lawyer.