The Importance of Managing Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation

Last Updated on July 6, 2021 by Amy Geldean

How to Get Positive Reviews for Your Law Firm

Once you’ve claimed all your profiles and identified the sites your potential clients will be visiting before they decide if they’ll schedule a consultation with your attorneys (or your competitors), it’s time to augment your positive reviews.

You may think that positive reviews come naturally. However, people are more likely to leave negative feedback than positive.

Additionally, your clients may be confused about where to leave their reviews.

With Yelp, legal directories, social media, and Google Business profiles, the choices can be overwhelming and put people off from leaving a positive review.

It’s time to turn that frown upside down and amp up the number of reviews you’re getting from happy clients.

After all, they’re the ones that will assure your potential clients that your law firm is the right choice for their legal troubles.

Laws Pertinent to Law Firm Testimonials

Testimonials provide the much needed social proof to push a potential client into calling your office, booking a consultation, and becoming a client.

However, numerous lawyers worry about the Rules of Professional Conduct when it comes to law firm testimonials displayed on your website.

While regulations vary from state to state (and you should absolutely check your state regulations before displaying testimonials), the majority of them allow you to display your clients’ testimonials.

According to the American Bar Association’s rules pertinent to communication about a law firm’s services, the only prohibited communication is “false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.”

Everything else is fair game.

The Federal Trade Commission allows testimonials, as they can offer valuable information to potential clients regarding a law firm’s services.

Official comments also note that comparison between different service providers can also be valuable.

In fact, the FTC allows paid testimonials, as long as you disclose that there has been an exchange of value.

Some states, however, require you to place disclaimers with the testimonials on your website.

For example, New York, California, Florida, South Carolina, and South Dakota all stipulate that you should use a disclaimer stating that prior results do not guarantee future results. In some states, you should also avoid writing the testimonials yourself.

Ultimately, it all depends on the state you are practicing law in, so make sure you double-check before soliciting, displaying, or managing reviews.

In some states, you could be liable even for reviews (treated as advertising) you’ve had nothing to do with, and which contain inaccurate or misleading information. In that case, it’s best to issue a response.

The same goes for different platforms; if you’re not sure about whether it’s allowed to solicit reviews, check with the platform you’re using.

How to Ask for Positive Reviews

You should motivate your clients to leave reviews or even ask them to do so, while keeping your state’s regulations and the rules of the platforms you’re using in mind.

The safest way to do it is by including links to social media sites in the footer of your website. This is really handy if your law firm has presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

You can also verbally ask your clients to leave a review on the websites where you want to improve your score.

Asking for Law Firm Reviews through Email

Emails are a great channel through which you can ask for reviews from your existing clients.

You can incorporate the review request into a feedback request email, with a link to the review site embedded in the text.

Providing questions the clients should touch on is very helpful:

  • Were you happy with our service?
  • How satisfied were you with the attorney in charge of your case?
  • Would you recommend us to your family and friends?

This makes it a really easy template for them to follow.

However, don’t provide an actual template. Some review sites will recognize a lot of similarly phrased reviews and remove them.

On some platforms, like Yelp, you’re not actually allowed to ask for reviews.

However, you can tell your clients you’re on Yelp, pose the questions, and let them figure out the rest themselves.

Testimonials

In addition to reviews, you can also ask for testimonials for your website.

This gives you a lot more control over what your clients say, and what you emphasize. So while third-party reviews are important, you should also make sure you get some particularly stellar reviews to display on your website.

Speaking of testimonials, create video testimonials.

Simply ask your most satisfied clients to help you by giving their feedback for the camera, and then upload it to your website.

Make sure that you clarify where the testimonials will be used, and for which purpose.

Your clients don’t have to speak about their cases per se, but they can touch on the quality of the service they received.

FAQ

Q: When is the best time to ask for a review?

A: The best time to ask for a review of your law firm is when the client is at their peak happiest. For example, if you just won their case, make sure you ask them to leave a review on your preferred site.

Q: Where should the client leave a review?

A: As a rule of thumb, direct clients to different sites that hold value for your firm and your potential clients. For example, you could ask client A to post to Facebook, client B to Google, client C to Yelp, and so on.

Q: Can clients leave identical reviews on different sites?

A: No, try to avoid having clients leave identical reviews on different sites. While it’s nice that they’re willing to go the extra mile, the majority of review sites will notice that the review is duplicate, and they could remove it.

Q: Can I give my clients a template to follow?

A: No. Review sites recognize it when plenty of different people leave reviews with similar phrasing. Provide them with the points they should touch on in their review, but avoid giving them a template to follow, or writing their words for them.

4. How to Promote Positive Law Firm Reviews

Once you’ve obtained positive reviews, you could just leave them be.

However, you could also promote them to attract new clients to your law firm. After all, there are very few things in marketing that are as effective as social proof provided through reviews.

It’d be a waste not to use it.

Share Your Reviews

The easiest thing you can do to promote positive law firm reviews is mark them as useful on every platform where that’s possible. For example, Google has recently started allowing business owners to pin certain reviews as the most helpful.

This gives you the option of selecting reviews that praise your qualities the most, and they’ll be highlighted to your potential customers.

Re-share your reviews to social media

Again, your customers may be turning to Google first, but there are plenty of potential customers on social media, as well. Some may be actively looking for you, while others could be passively following your pages.

When you get a stellar review, you can share it directly to your social media, or take a screenshot. Respond to the feedback in the caption.

The more personable you are, the better. It’s a common misconception that lawyers are aloof, and it’s something that puts a lot of people off.

By celebrating your positive reviews and showing how much you care about improving your service and getting feedback, you’ll be showing potential clients that your law firm is pleasant to work with.

Sharing the positive reviews of your law firm on social media can also set off a chain reaction. The more clients see that you are celebrating feedback, the more will they be willing to provide it.

Create a review page on your website

You should display the most glowing testimonials on your home page. However, you can take screenshots of reviews people have left on other sites and place them on a special page.

This will not only demonstrate your expertise, but it will also give credibility to your testimonials.

When potential clients see that your previous clients have left positive reviews on objective, third-party sites, they’ll be more likely to think they were honest.

After all, you can choose what you display on your website.

However, you can’t choose what’s displayed on Google or Avvo.

Respond to reviews

Not responding to reviews (be they negative or positive) is a bad move.

When you respond to reviews, you’re showing your existing and potential clients that you care.

If you respond to negative reviews in a civil manner that shows you’re working to improve your service, you’ll show prospective clients that you care about the quality of the service you provide, and that it’s not hard to resolve conflicts with you and your attorneys.

It’s impossible not to encounter a single dissatisfied customer when you’re managing a law firm.

However, what matters is how you resolve conflict and respond to negative reviews.

Use reviews in advertising

If you’re advertising your law firm, obtain the necessary permissions from your clients, and use their reviews in your ad creative.

When a prospective customer comes across an ad that shows someone just like them who’s resolved their problem successfully with the help of your firm, they’ll be more likely to schedule a consultation with you.

Similarly, if you’ve collected video testimonials for your website, obtain the necessary permissions and use them for video advertising.

The most effective way of using reviews for advertising is in retargeting campaigns.

When you know that prospective clients are interested (for example, they’ve already clicked through to your site from search results or your practice area pages), you can retarget them with ads providing social proof to solidify their interest.

Reviews for client retention

Finally, if you share and promote your positive reviews, it’ll be much easier to convince existing clients of your value, leading to higher retention rates.

This is especially important for certain practice areas that rely on a steady client base.

However, in any case, showing existing clients positive reviews about your law firm is a great way to generate referrals.

And if one thing is true in marketing, then it’s that no advertising campaign can go as far as the good old word of mouth can.

5. Google Maps and the Importance of Positive Law Firm Reviews

Search engines make the world go round.

And the most powerful one, Google, has decided to shift its focus and offer even more value to local searchers.

This means that the folks at Google are constantly adapting their algorithms to serve different search results to different searchers, all with the ultimate goal of providing the best results for their particular needs.

When it comes to local searches such as: “Divorce lawyer in Chicago,” a potential client looking to schedule a consultation will see results tailored to them.

In particular, they’ll see the highest rated law firms in their vicinity.

And your goal is to appear in the top three.

What Is Local 3 Pack and Why Should You Care?

When Google displays results for searches pertinent to locations, it displays the best businesses in a map-like format.

Below the map itself, there are three businesses listed that best serve the searcher’s needs, and have the highest ratings.

When your potential client looks up your practice area and your target location, they won’t see your website or normal search results immediately.

Instead, they see the local three pack as it’s the most prominent feature in the results.

Your goal is to get into that three-pack since the majority of your potential customers won’t look further from it.

Instead, they’ll see 5-star ratings, and a phone number.

You can bet they’ll click through and get on the phone immediately. You want them to phone your law firm, and not your competitors.

Optimizing for Google Maps

The first thing you can do to make sure you appear in the local three pack is claim your Google My Business profile.

From there onward, you should add all the important information about your law firm:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Description
  • Services you provide
  • Link to your website
  • Images

Avoid using keywords for your business’ title if it wasn’t registered as such.

For example, if your law firm was registered as “Howard & Partners,” don’t state it was named “Howard & Partners injury attorneys” on Google My Business.

SEO

Secondly, you should make sure you’ve optimized your website for search engines.

Since the recent update to the algorithm, Google is prioritizing law firms that have a lot of links and content that caters perfectly to searchers.

A few easy ways to ensure you make it to Maps by way of SEO is:

  • Guest post on esteemed legal websites and link to your website
  • Create legal content that’s relevant to your potential customers
  • Encourage social media mentions of your law firm
  • Use the right keywords

Local SEO and website SEO are a two-way street.

Both cause you to provide content valuable to searchers and in turn, the searchers will click on your results more, fueling your ascent to the local three pack and position zero.

Similarly, make sure you’ve claimed your profile on the most important websites.

Google searches the internet for other mentions of your law firm. So if you’ve claimed your Avvo profile, have a LinkedIn company profile that’s often updated, and your attorneys post about legal topics often, you’ll have a higher chance of making it to the top three.

Make sure your NAP (name, address, and phone) information is consistent across all directories and websites.

Reviews

One of the most important reasons to manage your law firm’s online reputation are the reviews you will get from satisfied customers.

When it comes to making it to the top three on Maps for local keyword queries, reviews significantly factor into the decision to display your law firm among the first results.

However, not just any old review will do.

When it comes to Google and your online reputation as a whole, there are five factors to keep in mind:

1. The quality of your reviews

Are you getting predominantly good reviews, or negative reviews?

Both search engines and your potential customers will choose law firms with the best reviews. If you don’t have any reviews at all, they may skip over your listing.

2. The quantity of your reviews

How many reviews does your law firm have? Do you have more or less reviews than other law firms in your area?

The ideal is to have a similar amount or slightly more reviews than other law firms. However, don’t overdo it.

Having a hundred reviews when other law firms in your area barely have a dozen may trigger Google’s spam filter.

3. The velocity of your reviews

How often are you getting new reviews? Are you getting a lot of reviews in a short period of time?

The fresher your reviews are, the higher will your chances of ranking for Maps be. If you have reviews from two years ago, you probably won’t make the top three cut.

Similarly, if you get a lot of reviews in two days, that may trigger the spam filters.

4. The diversity of your reviews

Your reviews shouldn’t all be on Google.

In fact, Google’s algorithms will think it’s weird if you’re getting a lot of reviews on GMB and none on other relevant directories.

This is why it’s a good idea to have your clients leave reviews on different sites each time.

Similarly, don’t give all of your clients the same link, or link to your GMB profile from your website. Google monitors referral traffic, so if it notices your clients are all coming from your site, the algorithms could start deleting your reviews.

5. Your review history

Negative reviews are normal; any law firm that’s been in business for a while gets them. However, if you respond to them, and if you get more positive reviews than negative ones, you’ll be able to prove to search engines and potential clients alike that you’re running a great firm.

6. How to Handle Negative Law Firm Reviews

So you went ahead and checked the reviews, only to find that, in the sea of five stars, you’ve received a one-star review.

First of all: don’t panic.

It happens to everyone. Negative reviews are normal for any law firm that’s been in business long enough.

What matters is how you’ll respond to negative feedback.

Rule #1: Always respond to negative reviews

There are very few things that will damage your online reputation more than ignoring negative reviews.

However, avoid:

  • Displaying aggression
  • Being confrontational in your replies
  • Discussing clients’ private circumstances

Instead, be civil and show empathy in your response to a negative review.

First of all, Google has started monitoring the sentiment in which your law firm is mentioned. If you respond to negative reviews in a civil, empathetic manner, your reputation (as perceived by search engines) won’t be affected.

Additionally, if potential clients see you interacting with dissatisfied clients in a civil way, they’ll be more likely to contact you.

If they see you arguing, on the other hand, they may fear working with you and your law firm.

Rule #2: Try to resolve the problem

Do your best to show your willingness to resolve the problem in your response.

Then, actually go out there and try to resolve it to the best of your abilities.

There have been a lot of reviewers who reached out to law firms because they were dissatisfied, only to experience stellar customer service and change their one-star review to a five-star review with an update on how you excelled.

Now imagine a potential customer seeing that you’re not afraid of negative feedback, but proactively doing your best to make things right.

Your online reputation will be stellar.

Fake Reviews

Accidents (or sabotage) happen.

If you think someone who’s never been your client is targeting you, you can always request for the review to be deleted. On social media, you can report a post if you think it’s fake and targeting you.

However, don’t do this if you receive a legitimate review from a dissatisfied customer.

If you’re not sure whether a review is fake, make sure you fact-check what the reviewer wrote:

  • Did they mention any particular problems?
  • Did they reference interactions?
  • Did they reference your employees or your place of business?

If you receive a generalized “This law firm sucks” review, it might be time to click that “Flag as inappropriate” button.

If the review is slanderous, you can take legal action – both in court and with Google.

Handling negative reviews mainly requires diplomacy and an honest desire to do better.

However, if someone is targeting you, don’t be afraid to take legal action and ensure that your potential customers are only seeing relevant information.

7. What to Do If Your Law Firm Is in an Online PR Storm?

All press may be good press if you’re a celebrity.

However, when you’re managing a law firm, you want to avoid negative press whenever possible.

Being called out on the TV may be a scandal for a day or two. However, having a digital footprint that contains the evidence of a PR storm may be a significant danger to your law firm’s online reputation.

If you find yourself in the middle of an online PR storm, here’s what you have to do:

1. Understand the Situation

Before you start defending yourself, understand the situation:

  • Which publication ran the article?
  • What is the background of the publication?
  • Does the article contain accurate information and the right context?
  • Who were the sources for the article?

If you’re not the subject of a story published in a publication, but being targeted by influential individuals, then still strive to understand the facts, and understand why they started the attack in the first place.

In short: understand all the facts before you take action.

Get the whole picture so you can analyze what went wrong and why. It’s the best way to rectify the situation.

2. Take Action

After you’ve gotten all the facts and understood what’s happening (and why), it’s time to strategize and identify the best course of action.

Sometimes, a PR storm has been unleashed because someone got their facts wrong.

In that case, it’s best to contact the publication (or the person) with accurate information and sources, if possible.

If the storm is something likely to blow over and not leave significant damage, stay quiet.

In general, always stay quiet, stating that you are investigating the situation, until you’ve fully understood the situation, as well as the repercussions of the PR storm.

Issue a response.

If the claims made in the article are damaging, make sure you issue a response.

You can issue a press release, contact a publicist, or issue a response through your blog and your social media channels.

Make sure you dispute the article, providing sources where possible.

Apologize.

If it’s a situation you know about, apologize and state that you are rectifying the problem.

Don’t be afraid to come forward and say you made a mistake. However, do your best to fix it, and make sure there’s a trail proving that you’ve done so.

3. Start Calling

When you’ve chartered your course and issued a response, it’s time to pick up the phone.

Get in touch with the outlet or the person who wrote the article, review, or the comment, and let them know what you’re doing to rectify the situation.

If you’ve done nothing wrong and you’ve issued a response negating the facts, make sure they know. This will help you avoid problems in the long term and preserve relationships with publications.

Avoid being confrontational in the conversation.

Instead, just like with negative reviews, keep it civil.

Your main goal has to be clearing up any misunderstandings and preserving your law firm’s reputation.

Don’t add fuel to the fire. Instead, stay cool, or hire a professional publicist to handle your public relations while the storm is raging.

It’s the best way to ensure you retain your clients and attract potential ones.

How to Recover from a Negative Law Firm PR Blitz

The worst is over. You’ve been called out in the press, or an influencer targeted you. You’ve issued a response, and things have blown over.

However, this is not the time to throw your hands up in the air.

It’s time to make sure your online reputation stays positive.

1. PR-Proof Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation

Some PR storms can be completely avoided if you track all mentions of your law firm online; from reviews to social media.

You can monitor your online mentions with:

If you know what’s happening at all times, you can nip a lot of problems in the bud. PR blitzes included.

You should also make friends with editors and journalists. You can distribute press releases through them, especially when it comes to important things such as sponsorships, partnerships, and philanthropic efforts.

If they need sources for legal topics, your law firm can become one, providing commentary. It will help you build a great relationship with an outlet that could help your law firm in the long run.

Even if you do find yourself recovering after a PR storm, your previous positive online reputation will help you mitigate the consequences.

2. Highlight Your Positives

After a while has passed, it’s time to increase your marketing efforts to mitigate the negative effects of a PR storm.

Share your positive reviews and client testimonials on your website, as well as your social media profiles.

If possible, get in touch with outlets which will run positive stories about your law firm.

You can also use your positive reviews (if they’re video testimonials, it’s even better) to start an advertising campaign.

You’ll be attracting new clients and improving your online reputation at the same time.

3. Improve Your Law Firm’s Practices

Ultimately, one of the best things you can do to recover after a PR storm is to improve.

Regardless of whether your firm was at fault or not, it’s always good to show that you’ve taken negative feedback to heart and that you’re making plans about improving your practices.

First of all, unhappy clients appreciate seeing that you’re doing everything you can do to right the wrongs.

Secondly, potential clients will be more open to scheduling a consultation with you if they see that your law firm responds well to feedback.

Finally, by constantly improving your policies and acting on the feedback you receive, you’ll ensure that your online reputation isn’t just stellar for the time being.

You’ll have future-proofed your law firm.

No negative review will ever be able to erase your willingness to improve with the times.

If you are looking for help managing your law firm’s online reputation, schedule a time to speak with us today! We can help you set up a reputation management plan.