For small law firms, reputation is crucial. Knowing how to manage a small law firm’s reviews is essential to improving that reputation. Reviews are what bring in the majority of your clients and revenue. While you may hold valuable expertise and knowledge in a specific area of the law, small firms simply can’t compete with large firms when it comes to internet advertising. Your potential clients want to know in advance how they’ll be treated and what results you’ll achieve for them.

For that reason, client reviews matter. Managing your law firm’s reviews comes down to ethically curating and responding to past reviews and encouraging satisfied clients to leave feedback.

Here’s an overview of why online reviews are important, some ethical considerations for lawyers, and a variety of examples of favorable law firm reviews.

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Why are law firm reviews important?

To fully grasp the impact of online reviews, you need to be aware of how clients find your law firm in the first place. The vast majority get your name after a Google search. Your ranking in the Google search results depends on many factors, such as your location, areas of specialization, the keywords searchers use, and SEO.

Another key factor is your rating according to Google reviews. Anyone can post a public review of your firm, whether or not they are a past client. These reviews aren’t always vetted, so it’s possible to receive negative reviews from people you’ve never worked with.

Knowing how to manage a small law firm’s reviews is essential, as they play a key role in determining your search engine rankings and public opinion of your firm.

Monitoring is a key part of managing your small law firm’s reviews

Monitoring reviews lets you know what’s out there. It can help answer some questions for you about your own marketing. If you are getting fewer clients than you once did, or if there’s a sudden surge in interest, it makes sense to go online and see if new reviews are the explanation. 

While deleting reviews is generally frowned upon, there are occasions when people say things in reviews that are simply out of line. Review forums like Yelp give you the option to flag or report reviews that are slanderous or just plain offensive. You won’t always get the review removed, but it’s worth a try.

Sometimes online reviews offer insight your clients won’t give you directly. Imagine a scenario in which you get a review of four stars out of five that says the client experienced delays in getting questions answered because she doesn’t use email. Depending on your target demographic, you can dismiss this as an outlier issue or take a look at other communication methods so clients never feel out of touch.

This brings us to the best-case scenario: the five-star review. This does more than boost your ego — it can boost your firm profile. Marketing strategists know that promoting positive reviews is a key part of managing reviews for small law firms. You can go beyond simply enjoying the review and add it to your existing marketing materials, like your website or social media pages. Yelp offers the option to share individual reviews with a simple click.

Etiquette for responding to law firm reviews

Whether or not you should respond publicly to defend yourself against negative reviews is a touchy subject. In some states, this may be banned or looked upon with scorn in the legal community.

If you do decide to respond to a negative review, your intention should be to politely identify and rectify any shortcomings on your end or misunderstandings that your client might have.

That said, a few bad reviews are nothing to despair over. Almost every business has a range of reviews — after all, a review section packed with only five-star reviews can arouse the suspicion of potential clients.

How to get clients to post reviews

Most people are used to seeing requests for reviews or “tell us how we’re doing” pop-ups on consumer sites. Many professionals, however, are still uncomfortable with the idea of asking clients for reviews. Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can do this tactfully. Here are some examples:

  • Include a “tell us about your experience” link in the signature line of your emails.
  • As part of a “wrap-up” email at the conclusion of a case, include a standard paragraph that invites the client to get in touch if they ever need further legal help. In that paragraph, you can also include an invite to leave a review on an external site of your choosing. Consider building an email list to engage with clients over time. 
  • Include a “testimonial” page on your website and invite former clients to fill out a web form to leave their own testimonials. This can be particularly effective, as the testimonial page offers a model of reviews new posters can follow.

Places clients can post reviews

When learning how to manage a small law firm’s reviews, you’ll need to understand that it matters where client reviews are posted. It’s good practice to recommend sites where you want satisfied clients to leave their feedback.

Most of your clients will know about Google and Yelp, but they won’t be as familiar with legal-specific sites. Both of these are important. Here’s a shortlist of where your clients can leave law firm reviews:

General review sites:

  • Google
  • Yelp

Business review sites:

  • Better Business Bureau
  • Consumer Affairs

Social media:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn 

Legal industry-specific:

  • AVVO
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • NOLO

Now that you know where client reviews might go, here are some examples of reviews that would be beneficial to your firm.

Examples of positive small law firm reviews

Remember that not all law firms are the same — and neither are all legal disciplines. It’s important to hone in on what a prospective client might look for in a lawyer in your field. A criminal defense client might look for a strong and diligent advocate, while a mediation client might value empathy and compassion more heavily.

Here are a few examples of favorable reviews that represent a cross-section of legal disciplines. Take note of these while exploring how to manage a small law firm’s reviews:

  • “I was very nervous about my situation, but my attorney and her team put me at ease. They explained the entire process, so I knew what might happen and how they were going to help.”
  • “I was very frustrated with my insurance company. It was very stressful trying to fulfill all of their demands. My attorney took over that process, so I never had to call my insurer again.”
  • “I loved that my attorney was so friendly and kind. He never made me feel silly for asking questions. I knew that I could call his office at any time, and he or someone in the office would be available to discuss my case.”
  • “I was going through a difficult divorce. I was worried about my kids and how I might cope financially. My attorney listened to my concerns. She outlined options to negotiate custody and support so we are taken care of.”
  • “Being arrested was a scary and new experience for me. I didn’t know who to call for help. I was embarrassed to call family and didn’t know where to turn. My attorney was there to defend me against the charges. I knew I had someone on my side.”
  • “I owed a lot of money in traffic tickets. I was facing the loss of my vehicle and the ability to drive to work. My lawyer stepped in to get things resolved quickly. Now my record is clear and I don’t have to worry about losing my job.”
  • “I run a small food co-packing service. When the economy stalled, several of my clients couldn’t pay their bills. My lawyer was able to negotiate payment while maintaining good relationships with my clients.”
  • “My attorney was so knowledgeable. I could ask her anything about my case and she was always available with a quick answer.”
  • “My lawyer’s office was so efficient. After months of being hounded by my insurance company for medical records, they were able to get the right paperwork in a matter of days. Then they got a great settlement on my behalf.”
  • “I have a sizable estate and a big family. It was hard to decide the best way to dispose of my assets. My attorney gave me a number of options I’d never considered, so I know my loved ones will be taken care of.”

While it’s unethical to influence the reviews that clients leave or provide any form of incentive, it’s perfectly acceptable to encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews.

Talk to Constant Contact about your marketing needs

Every law firm has to make its own judgment calls when it comes to handling online reviews. With the right strategy, you can improve your reputation, client intake, and search engine rankings. To learn more about how to optimize your strategy and gain more in-depth knowledge about how to manage a small law firm’s reviews, reach out to Constant Contact today.