Recently, I received an email from an attorney who received a bad review on a national directory. The attorney was understandably upset and wanted to immediately respond. I advised a cooling-off period, reminding him that consumer research shows that a negative review improves the credibility of positive comments.
How to Respond to a Bad Review
Do Nothing: It's hard to swallow, but sometimes that’s the best action. If the reviewer is upset, your response may spark a dialogue that can spiral out of control.
Flag it for Review: Most review sites have a process to flag an inappropriate review. The SBM Member Directory has a review and endorsement feature. Reviews can only be submitted by a person registered on the site, who is also a client of the lawyer. After the lawyer verifies that the review is from a client, the review is posted, and lawyers get one response to a posted review. The client can’t answer, so there is no continued dialogue.
Respond: Take a deep breath, make sure the review is from your client, maintain their confidentiality, and restate your commitment to client service. This can send a powerful message to your potential clients.
Why Reviews Matter
Consumers looking for an attorney take suggestions from family and friends. Then, they turn to the internet for more information and read reviews. Reviews are the modern word-of-mouth recommendations.
Asking for and receiving reviews can enhance your reputation and client base. Reviews can also help your ranking on search engines. Having several reviews will raise your firm to the top of the list, allowing more prospective clients to find you. People like to share reviews on sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, which can also drive business to your door.
How to Ask for Reviews
Some firms ask clients: "Why were you looking for a lawyer?" or, "How did we help you?" If the answers are favorable, ask if they would be willing to write a review. Once your representation has concluded, ask the client additional questions such as, “Are you satisfied with the way we handled this case?" or, "Would you recommend me to others?”
Follow up with a note thanking them and reminding them about their willingness to submit a review.
CloudLawyers' Policy for Reviews
The SBM Member Directory powered by CloudLawyers has a policy for reviews. When CloudLawyers receives a review from a registered member, it emails the subject of the review to verify if that person is a client. If the lawyer responds that the person is indeed a client, the review will be posted; if they are not a client, the review is not posted and the reviewer is notified. When there is confusion regarding the status of the reviewer, CloudLawyers will try to resolve the situation. The complete review policy can be read online.
After years practicing law, Roberta Gubbins served as editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides legal content writing for lawyers. She is editor of The Mentor, the SBM Master Lawyers newsletter. Writing as Alexandra Hawthorne, she published a cozy mystery, Murder One in Midvale Corners.
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