Attorney Reputation Management Best Practices

Attorney Reputation Management Best Practices

You may have heard all about web design and development and know that SEO is important to online success. However, you may not realize that you need attorney reputation management too. 


Because people who visit your website don’t like to see negative comments. They want to feel you’re trustworthy – someone on whom they can rely, a lawyer who is well-regarded in the legal community. 

That is why you need to focus on web design, SEO, digital marketing, and reputation management. Statistics show that 94% of consumers will not patronize a business with negative comments and reviews. 

What Clients Expect

About 53% of consumers want and expect a business to reply to a negative comment within a week while some people (about 1 in 3) have a smaller window of time. In this case, they want the situation resolved in 2 to 3 days. 

Why People Write Bad Reviews

People will write a bad review if they had an unpleasant experience with a business or firm, felt the person they spoke to was rude or did not receive any kind of response at all. 

Even the most sympathetic attorney can run into problems in this respect. Someone may feel slighted or hurt or feel they were misunderstood. When this happens, even the best website design will not prevent a negative backlash.

How Bad Comments Surface

Here is what happens:

Someone comments negatively about your firm or writes a bad review.

Someone else sees the comment or review and shares it with others.

This generates quite a “buzz” because clicks and shares always get a lot of notice.

In turn, your site ranks higher in the search engines – for negative–not positive and popular–content. 

Everyone online jumps on the bandwagon about the bad comment. You fail to notice the stir until it’s too late and your firm has been hit hard on social media.

That is when you realize how important attorney reputation management is to your success.

Don’t wait until your firm or name is smeared across the virtual sphere. The time to think about reputation management is now and not later.

How to Cope with Bad Reviews

Here’s the good news. 

Both negative reviews and positive reviews and comments are good. It’s how you reply to them. People do not like businesses that censor reviews any more than they like fake testimonials. Therefore, your goal, when it comes to attorney reputation management, is to stay engaged with your clients and take the bad with the good.

After all, how can you earn people’s trust if you don’t face both the good and bad?

How You Should Reply

Attorney reputation management best practices outline how best to respond to a review that is less-than-flattering. In some cases, your response may convince some reviewers to modify what they said. To reply to an unhappy client, do the following:

  • Acknowledge what the reviewer said and the problem. Apologize, regardless of the comment, showing empathy for what happened.
  • Respond positively, underscoring how the firm normally operates. To counteract the response, invite prior clients to write positive reviews. This will bury the negative comment under a shower of positive comments.
  • Offer the client who made the negative remarks to call or email you about the situation so you can iron things out and get everything resolved. 
  • Keep the conversation professional and private, as it might destroy client-attorney confidentiality. Don’t address allegations or make inquiries. Those kinds of conversations should not be part of a public forum.

Responding to Positive Comments and Reviews

While negative comments, no doubt, will garner notice, you also need to respond to positive statements about your firm. Don’t overlook these comments, as people are making a special effort to say something good. 

What You Should Say

In this case, follow attorney reputation management best practices, as follows:

  • Say “thank you” to the client and re-state his or her response. Make sure to acknowledge them with gratefulness and sincerity.
  • Use your firm’s name and add some keywords to increase your firm’s rankings in the SERPs. (“Positive reviews” are some of the common searches online.) When you use your firm’s name, location, and specialty, Google can more easily index it online.
  • Highlight positive reviews on social media or Google Reviews by including them on the testimonial area on your website. Some tools, or tracking sites, feature a widget that streams reviews directly onto your legal site.

As a legal firm, the last thing you want to do is to elicit positive reviews, as this falls under the rules for misleading or false ads. While it is okay to offer certain incentives for writing a review, you should never pressure someone into the activity. It simply will not generate trust. 

By looking objectively at what your clients say, both good and bad, you can gain some keen insights on how to manage your firm. This can only help you improve your practice so you can expand and grow and provide better future client services. 

Therefore, a bad review is not necessarily bad, especially if you can reconcile a matter with a client or improve your services overall. 

Legal Reviews and Referrals: What the Research Shows

One Martindale-Avvo survey revealed some interesting statistics about legal reviewing and referrals. Researchers found that 46% of legal clients, who received a lawyer referral, checked the attorney’s reviews first before they called them. 

Moreover, of the respondents who said they received a lawyer recommendation, 32% eventually chose another lawyer. Only 40% of those surveyed said they retained the legal services of the referred attorney.

The more an attorney gets involved with a review, the more his or her integrity starts to come into question. However, some state bar associations offer a little more leniency in this respect. 

For example, according to the site, the Bar Association in New York allows a lawyer to give clients a $50 credit on billing if they give an online review as long as the credit is not contingent on what the reviewer says or the client is not encouraged to rate the lawyer. Also, the client is solely responsible for writing the review and rating the attorney.