Capturing the Trustworthiness of Online Reviews

As a Super Lawyers or Rising Stars list selectee, you are among a unique group of attorneys who withstood the rigor of our patented selection process to earn a prestigious honor. That doesn’t mean your reputation is perpetually perfect, especially in the world of online reviews.

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As the playbook Building Real Trust in a Virtual World: An Attorney’s Guide discusses, the importance of trust in the online world is paramount. FindLaw’s 2015 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey recently found that 67 percent of consumers use reviews as major criteria when deciding on an attorney.

People you don’t even know can leave an online review for all potential clients to see, so some initial apprehension to this idea is understandable. The good news is that people want to leave positive reviews. The same survey found that 57 percent of legal consumers left online reviews and of these, 81 percent were positive. It is very likely you will receive good feedback from your clients.

So how do you get started? First consider the time and place to pose the question.

Just Start Asking

First off, keep in mind that some states prohibit the solicitation and use of ratings, reviews or recommendations. Attorneys are responsible for ensuring that they comply with their individual states’ ethics rules.

Assuming your state allows you to do so, when should you request a review? Some attorneys wait until the final termination letter to request feedback. Others may request feedback at the height of the case, or soon after receiving a successful judgment but before sending out the final bill and termination letter. The decision on when to ask is really up to you based on the kind of connection you developed with the client.

In any case, you should seek an honest and detailed appraisal. Reviews can help you provide reliable information to consumers who are considering your firm for legal representation.

Turning a Negative Into a Positive

Though the goal is always a positive review, the occasional bad one happens as well. Luckily there are ways to mitigate the damage. When you do receive a poor review it’s important to respond in a professional manner. Think about how potential clients will react if they read your response. You want to show them you are caring and empathetic, that you understand there is merit in criticism and that you appreciate any feedback that will help your firm.

Consumers are interested in your response to bad reviews. In a survey done by Phocuswright, 78 percent of respondents said they trust management more when they respond to criticism. Remember that not all reviews are bad, but handling the less than positive ones is an opportunity to show the caring side of your firm.

Ultimately reviews are about your online reputation and how consumers judge your firm when they’re looking for their next attorney. But this isn’t the only factor when considering how trustworthy a lawyer is. For more information about keeping the legal consumer’s attention, download the playbook: Building Real Trust in a Virtual World: An Attorney’s Guide.

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