Last month, Timothy Webster of Sidley Austin's D.C. Office, who is serving as the D.C. Bar's counsel, wrote a letter to Joshua King, Avvo's vice president of business development and general counsel, telling Avvo to "cease and desist" downloading Bar member information from the D.C. Bar Web site.
"I called counsel back, and we had an amicable conversation," King says. "But, I said, we clearly are not going to comply, and are clearly not going deprive the public of a service they have rightful access to."
D.C. Bar spokesperson Cynthia Kuhn says: "This has nothing to do with restricting public access.”
Kuhn says the Bar’s site is updated daily when members are disciplined, move, or even die. King says Avvo updates its site “periodically,” or once or twice a year, and if it is notified of a change. The infrequent updates on Avvo's site means accurate member information is not always displayed, according to Kuhn.
King says convincing some state bar associations to turn over member information has proven more difficult than others. For instance the state bars in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Maryland all provide Avvo with disks of the names of its members. He adds that by downloading from the Bar's site, Avvo is not hindering the Web site and has offered to stop if the D.C. Bar would voluntarily turn over the information.