SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - An Internet site that allows clients to rate their lawyer's performance has hit a snag in its effort to expand into Illinois, and has asked for the state Supreme Court's help.

Operators of Avvo.com have sought to get a master list of the roughly 85,000 lawyers licensed to practice in the Prairie State, but has been denied by the state Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission.

On the Avvo Web site, consumers are able to search reviews of attorneys in their community and then rate their efforts.

The Seattle-based company describes itself as providing a venue "to help people navigate the complex and confusing legal industry."

A spokesman for Avvo.com said the company filed an application with the Illinois Supreme Court to get the so-called Master Roll of attorneys authorized to practice in the state, which they say is a matter of public record.

"We took it as far as we could and they gave us an unequivocal 'no,' so we took it to the court," Joshua King, vice president of business development and general counsel of Avvo, told Legal Newsline.

In its filing, Avvo said the Supreme Court releasing the master list would "serve the interests of justice" by "facilitating the ability of consumers to make informed decisions in hiring an attorney."

Jim Grogan, deputy administrator for the state Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission, the state lawyer regulatory authority, told LNL the list isn't available for "commercial or political" purposes.

"We're not saying the public does not have a right to know who is an attorney in the state," he said, noting that the public already has access an "accurate and up-to-the-minute" state database that shows, among other things, a lawyers' state disciplinary record.

The Master Roll belongs to the state Supreme Court, and the ARDC simply maintains the list for the high court, he said.

On its site, Avvo lists lawyers in 15 states and the District of Columbia, providing client reviews for about two-thirds of U.S. attorneys, the company said in the court filing.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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