A consumer looking for a lawyer often starts by consulting with friends and relatives. Armed with the names of lawyers, they often turn to the internet to find more information. It is likely that after reading lawyer profiles and checking on years of experience and past case results, that consumers will read the user reviews.
Although we know reviews are a vital part of the decision-making process, many lawyers don’t ask for them. The law is a service business and while clients may not read your well-written briefs, they do know that you’ve helped them resolve their legal problem. And that is why consumers read reviews—they want to know that your clients are satisfied with your representation.
How do you ask for client reviews?
A two-step process is best. First, as part of your routine practice when wrapping up a client matter, ask your client for a review in person, by phone, or by e-mail. This connection lets the client agree without immediately taking the time to write a review. Second, write a note thanking your client and reaffirming their willingness to contribute. Some firms add questions such as "Why were you looking for a lawyer?" or, "How did we help you?"
Most responses will be short and to the point.
- “Thanks to Sally, Dick, and Jane Law Firm. I couldn’t have done this on my own.”
- “Great lawyers.”
- “Dick was professional and supportive of our family’s needs.”
However, sometimes a negative review shows up.
What to do About the Negative Review
Remember that consumer research shows that a negative review among the mix improves the credibility of positive reviews. How is the best way to respond?
Respond indirectly to the review. Take a deep breath. Confirm that the review was written by your client. Then, while not revealing anything about the client matter, respond by stating your firm’s commitment to quality client service and your established policy for confidentiality when addressing concerns presented to you. This can send a powerful message to potential clients reading the review.
Flag it for review. Most review sites have a process to flag a review that is inappropriate. The SBM Member Directory has this feature. Reviews can only be submitted by a lawyer who is registered on the site as a member. After verifying with the lawyer that the review is from a client, it is then posted. Lawyers can respond once to a posted review. The client can’t answer so there is no encouragement of ongoing dialogue.
Do nothing. It can be hard to swallow, but sometimes that’s the best action. If the reviewer is really upset, a response may spark a dialogue that simply goes nowhere.
Client reviews are not new, but the delivery system is. Reviews are on the internet for everyone to review. Clients expect to read reviews, so it’s time to get onboard. The procedure utilized by your Member Directory allows you to easily use reviews to your advantage.
After years practicing law, Roberta Gubbins served as editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides writing services to lawyers ghostwriting content for websites, blogs, and articles. She is editor of The Mentor, the SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.
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