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In brief: Deal gives nonprofit more time to vacate

Fri., June 15, 2007

Nonprofit mental health agency Hope Partners has a little more time to relocate from the Commercial Building downtown, according to an agreement with the building’s new owners.

Hope Partners may operate at the building, owned by Pacific First West LLC, until June 30, and the agency has through July 8 to remove its property, according to the agreement. BlueRay Technologies LLC plans to turn the building into a Blu-ray plant, dislocating 45 poor tenants, some of whom use the service.

Pacific First West last week sued Otis Associates Limited Partnership – a nonprofit organization headed by Jim Delegans that previously owned the building – alleging that Hope Partners is affiliated with Otis Associates and is illegally occupying the structure. That lawsuit, which asks for unspecified damages, has not been resolved, said Steven Schneider, attorney for Pacific First West.

Schneider said Hope Partners has contracts with Spokane County that expire June 30, and the arrangement is designed to have “minimal impact on the residents.”

Residents also have until June 30 to vacate the building, according to a June 1 notice to tenants from Pacific First West.


Attorneys sue over online ranking

Two Seattle lawyers filed a lawsuit Thursday against, a Web company that ranks attorneys based on a system that tracks professional achievements and peer comments.

Mark Britton, a Gonzaga University graduate, is CEO of Seattle-based Avvo, which launched the ranking service last week. The site, meant to guide consumers in selecting an attorney, has rankings that cover thousands of attorneys in nine states, including Washington.

The system ranks them from 1 (“extreme caution”) to 10 (“superb”). Britton said he will not disclose the exact system used to produce those scores, but it uses credentials, experience and evaluations.

Attorneys John Henry Browne and Alan J. Wenokur filed the suit in Seattle federal court. They seek to make their complaint a class-action suit.

Browne’s initial Avvo rating was 3.7. It later increased to 5.2 (“average”). Two of Browne’s clients terminated his work based on the ratings, the lawsuit says. Wenokur, a bankruptcy attorney, is rated at 6.5 on Avvo (“good”) even though he has practiced for 24 years and is successful in his practice, the suit states. He asked Avvo to include his “AV” rating from Martindale Hubbell, a peer-based system operated by LexisNexis. That is the highest rating for attorneys in that system.

The suit says Avvo told Wenokur it would not make changes in his score until he “claimed” his profile on the Web site, which requires using a credit card. Wenokur refused.

Britton said Avvo will contest the lawsuit. “The last I looked, the First Amendment is still alive and well,” he said.

From staff and wire reports


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