There’s no doubt that an attorney’s reputation is crucial for landing new clients and growing a successful legal practice. Whether you’re a divorce, tax, real estate, or general practice attorney, your reputation is tied to your success, and bad reviews will impact that. As the digital marketplace has grown, one of the first things potential clients consider is whether prior clients have left positive or negative reviews for your business.

While positive reviews boost your chances of getting a new client, negative reviews do the opposite. If you dread receiving  a new negative review online, you’re not alone — and for good reason:

  •         96% of people seeking legal advice use online search to find an attorney.
  •         Approximately 83% of people check lawyer’s’ reviews as the first step to finding an attorney.
  •         70% of clients are willing to go to an attorney in an inconvenient location if that attorney has better reviews and higher ratings than legal professionals closer to home.

The truth about bad reviews

It’s impossible to live in a world of all 5-star experiences. First, you should accept that bad reviews will happen for even the best businesses so you should have a plan ready when they come. Consider these key points:

  •         Bad reviews can provide essential feedback that ultimately helps improve your business
  •         Addressing  bad reviews doesn’t have to be difficult
  •         The best way to combat bad reviews is to get many more good ones!

If you’ve been practicing law for any length of time, you know how effective online reviews can be. Previous clients have the ability to post both positive or negative experiences with you to more than a dozen websites that are viewable to anyone. If these reviews are negative, all your work trying to convert fresh prospects is less effective.

No matter how effective you are at litigating, you’re going to receive bad reviews online. Unfortunately, clients don’t understand that other situations determine the case, not the quality of the attorney. So these clients take to the internet to vent their frustration, which can really harm SEO for lawyers. How do you deal with these negative attorney reviews to improve your reputation?

Scenario One:

Wow, that may be enough to make some questions all those long hours pouring through law journals. But before despair sets in, consider that if negative reviews are properly addressed, your online reputation can not only be saved but actually be improved. First, let’s look at some situations that are likely to provoke your clients to write bad reviews.

There are a variety of scenarios that can make your clients post bad reviews about you, including:

  1.       A discontented client expressing his views on the service received
  2.       You are mistaken for a different  attorney, who unfortunately provided poor service
  3.       The review is from a competitor who is  trying to bring you down
  4.       The prospect client was unable to reach you because the wrong contact information was listed online
  5.       The review is from the opposing party in a recent —  who likely lost because of your brilliance
  6.       The client may be frustrated because the cost of service was higher than they hoped

Reading something negative about yourself posted in public can spark some strong emotion. We already know that negative reviews can reduce the number of new clients you get via online, decrease the number of people who visit your website and negatively affect the way prospects perceive your practice. But this isn’t the time for a quick and angry response, it is time to build your brand.

Scenario Two:

Having an effective strategy for responding to and managing bad reviews online will be crucial. This is a perfect example of an attorney addressing the situation. Responding to negative reviews not only protects your reputation but also improves how you show up when someone is conducting an online search. Left alone, bad reviews are likely to cost you, both in reputation and in billable hours. But with the right approach and response, negative reviews provide you with an opportunity to minimize client issues, demonstrate that you’re invested in getting them a positive resolution and show prospective clients that you’re worth contacting, even if they have to drive a bit further.

Looking for help? Birdeye can help you monitor your reviews, respond to them, attract new customers and more! Learn how today.