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There are a number of ways attorneys obtain clientele. Among the most common are referrals from other attorneys and organic website traffic. As a firm builds its online reputation, reviews can also significantly impact clientele. If you are looking to improve your online ratings, you need to understand how to encourage reviews and what to do in the event you receive a negative review. It is also essential for lawyers responding to online reviews to understand the implications of their responses. Let us start by looking at the importance of online reviews for your firm.
The Importance of Online Reviews for Your Law Firm
Online reviews are a valuable resource when prospective clients search for an attorney. Most individuals looking for a lawyer are likely doing so for the first time because of a difficult situation. Online reviews, particularly positive ones, convey a strong trust signal.
Prospective clients use trust signals to determine whether a law firm is trustworthy and reputable. Outside of online reviews, examples of trust signals include social media endorsements, website security certificates, visible contact information, and public, active social media profiles. Useful content is another crucial trust signal for potential legal clients.
The better your online reputation, the more likely you will obtain clients via online sources. Whether you are working on building a backlog of reviews or you have a solid number, it is crucial to understand how to appropriately respond to reviews, as well as the ethical implications of responding to positive and negative feedback.
Ethical Concerns of Lawyers Responding to Online Reviews
Attorneys are often targets of criticism. Unfortunately, no matter how well you practice law, you will not satisfy every client. As such, you should expect the occasional negative review and be prepared to respond appropriately. Responding appropriately also means ensuring you do not violate your duty of confidentiality.
According to the ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(a), lawyers are not to reveal information about a client’s case without informed consent. The only exception when responding specifically to online reviews is stated in Rule 1.6(b)(5). Per that rule, a lawyer is allowed to reveal information in the following situations:
- To establish a defense to a civil claim or criminal charge
- To respond to allegations in any situation where the lawyer’s representation of their client was questioned
- To establish a defense or claim on behalf of a lawyer in the midst of a controversy with a client
In addition to the national ABA rules, it is vital to be aware of applicable state or local practices you must abide by. Check with your local ABA to learn more.
How to Encourage Client Reviews
Sometimes, receiving client reviews can feel like pulling teeth. Even clients who were exceedingly pleased with the representation you provided do not always take the time to leave you a review. Fortunately, you can take steps to encourage clients to leave reviews for your law firm.
It should go without saying that, first and foremost, you should always focus on providing excellent service. Remember that a client is more than their legal issue. Make a lasting, positive impression on your clients by showing them you care about more than their case. Clients should always feel understood, supported, and heard.
When it comes to asking for reviews, the question can seem daunting and a bit awkward. Fortunately, there are ways around directly asking for a written review. Instead, conclude your services by asking how you handled the case and whether your client would want to work with you again. If you gauge their response as enthusiastic, invite them to share their experience online–whether that be on Google, your Facebook page, or directly through a client testimonial on your website.
Depending on the situation, it may not be appropriate to ask a client for a review–directly or indirectly. If that is the case, you have the option to take an automated approach. There are a number of review management software on the market you can use to email clients a short survey. They can answer at their leisure and will not feel pressured to provide an immediate or canned response.
Common Review Platforms for Lawyers
When it comes to gathering reviews for your law firm, you have a number of platforms you can encourage clients to visit. What you choose ultimately depends on your marketing strategy. Some of the most common review platforms for law firms include:
Google Screened. Google Screened is a badge Google gives to verified, high-quality law firms. The badge appears on local service ads and displays reviews. If your content and web pages rank well on Google and you run ads, encourage clients to leave reviews for your law firm on your Google Screened profile. When a prospective client comes across your listing, your rating and reviews will be among the first things they see.
Yelp. Yelp is one of the most frequented review platforms on the internet. From restaurants to spas, law firms, and every business in between, Yelp houses reviews for millions of businesses. Its popularity means that if you have a Yelp profile, it will likely appear high in the search rankings if a prospective client looks you up.
Facebook. Just about everyone seems to have a Facebook profile. If you have an active professional page or law firm-specific page, encourage clients to leave their feedback. If you conduct search ad campaigns through Facebook, people who end up on your profile will see those reviews.
BBB. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is known for being a reliable source for accurate reviews and ratings. The BBB also investigates complaints and negative reviews to determine their accuracy and find resolutions.
Legal Directories. Directories like Avvo, Lawyers.com, and NOLO are top-ranking websites among the legal community. If clients leave you reviews on legal directories, individuals who find legal services through those platforms will see those reviews and be more likely to reach out.
How to Respond to Online Reviews
When it comes to lawyers responding to online reviews, professionalism is key–whether the feedback is positive or negative. In order to maintain a quality online reputation, you need to understand how to reply to all types of reviews.
Every attorney wants to get positive reviews. Not only is it an award of sorts, but it increases the chances of obtaining new clientele. To boost the impact of the positive reviews you get, consider the following:
- Show appreciation. It is best practice and polite to thank clients for their positive reviews. Mention an aspect of their review that you particularly appreciated. Depending on the situation, you could find yourself a repeat client.
- Include a call to action. To improve your top-of-mind awareness, it is important to prompt action when you reply to a positive comment. Encourage the client to reach out again if they need further legal guidance or share their experience with others looking for help.
- Share positive reviews. When you receive a positive review on one platform, look for ways to share it on other media.
No matter the type of law you practice, how long you have been an attorney, or how many cases you win, you will undoubtedly receive a negative review from time to time. When that happens, consider the following:
- Remain calm. It is normal and even understandable to get upset when you see a negative review. Depending on the client and their situation, the review may even feel unfair. Regardless, you need to avoid an emotional response. Remember to take time before responding and, when in doubt, keep your reply short and professional. Additionally, you may not have the legal right to respond if they are a client that provided sensitive or confidential information. Also, it may be a violation of ethics guidelines to respond. Make sure to find out before you react hastily to a negative online review.
- Reach out to the client offline. If a past client leaves a negative review you think you can fix, reach out to them offline and try to work the issue out. If you do reply to their review, simply let them know that you have reached out to them personally.
How Law Quill Can Help Your Law Firm
To continuously improve online reputations, it is vital for lawyers responding to online reviews to know how to handle positive and negative comments. They also need to know which platforms to encourage clients to leave feedback on so that the reviews are visible and quickly circulated. If you are looking to improve your review management strategy, consider outsourcing to the digital marketing professionals from Law Quill.
We are here to help and would welcome the opportunity to visit with you for free regarding your law firm website’s content, and how we can take these tasks off your plate! Schedule a free visit with us by scheduling a quick phone or zoom call at your convenience on our calendar today. You can also email us at email@example.com.