The utility of online lawyer reviews, if accurate, is high; it is a low or no cost way of ‘kicking the tires’ before taking the plunge of hiring a lawyer. Such reviews purport to provide an easy way of navigating the quality of lawyers in Toronto, North America and elsewhere. The problem is that there is no way to ‘kick the tires’ or receive an introductory taste of a lawyer’s prospective legal services[i]; lawyers sell their time.
Lawyers are supposed to be held to a basic standard of competence; whether a lawyer has fulfilled that standard can often be determined by looking at the regulator of the lawyer. In the case of Toronto immigration lawyers, and lawyers in Ontario generally, the regulator is the Law Society of Ontario.
One online third party assessment/rating entity claims that they ‘hand-pick’ lawyers as “The Three Best”, but also post a disclaimer that admits that other lawyers are the same quality. Other review/assessment websites are regurgitations of other reviews such as google reviews.
The utility of sites that purport to have a screening prcess for assessing lawyers is in doubt. One highly rated law firm has many positive reviews, yet is being investigated for misleading advertising practices such as “marketing… services…in a manner that is likely to mislead, confuse or deceive “. Such high plaudits for such a firm seem at odds with such an investigation.
Other sources of lawyer reviews include Google or Yelp. Some commentators complain that these sources are not reliable and provide guidelines for assessing the veracity of such reviews. With respect to Yelp, there have been allegations that Yelp bullies businesses through the threat of bad reviews as a source of Yelp’s revenue. Advice on assessing the veracity of online reviews is here.
 “ NO REPRESENTATION IS MADE THAT THE QUALITY OF SERVICES AND PRODUCTS IS GREATER THAN THE QUALITY OF SERVICES AND PRODUCTS BY OTHER BUSINESSES NOT LISTED OR RATED BY US” – from: https://threebestrated.ca/terms-of-service . Threebestrated.ca purports to “hand-pick” lawyers like produce in a grocery store.
[i] The exception is fields of law such as personal injury, where the lawyer obtains a percentage of a cash settlement from a litigant. However in immigration cases, where the goal is a visa or a permit, a lawyer can’t share a visa or permit. See: http://www.lsuc.on.ca/ContingencyFees/