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How Should an Attorney Respond to a Negative Online Review

Online reviews are commonplace these days, and there’s a fairly good chance that potential future clients will consider them when making a hiring decision. So what should an attorney do if he or she gets a negative online review? This post will discuss how to respond. Staying level-headed and courteous gives you the opportunity to turn a negative review into a positive for the firm.

Step 1: Stay Calm

No one likes to hear, let alone read, negative comments about oneself. It may be tempting to panic. Don’t. An attorney should not let emotion get the best of her. Responding to a negative review out of a place of emotional distress is not a good idea and will probably make the situation much worse. Instead, compose yourself and analyze the situation before making any rash decisions. Taking a step back lets you seek the best possible outcome.

Step 2:  Analyze the Situation

Check to see who wrote the review. Was this individual really a client? Perhaps this person mistakenly left a review for the wrong attorney. Consider the claims made. Is the accusation legitimate? When was the review posted? Has it been up for an extended period of time? Have you noticed a drop in business? Was the review just posted? If the individual was a client, consider how easy or difficult they were. 

Step 3: Determine Next Steps 

There are several ways an attorney could respond to a negative online review. Some responses are a good idea. Others should be avoided at all costs. 

Do Nothing

An attorney may wish to just ignore the review. While this may be tempting, it may not be the best way to deal with the criticism. When someone leaves a negative review, it’s a better idea to respond in a polite and courteous way that addresses the matter. If you have already responded and the reviewer continues to complain, it is probably a good idea to ignore further remarks. 

Deny and Blame the Reviewer

Though it may be tempting to deny and blame the reviewer for their bad experience, don’t do it. It reflects poorly on the attorney and may even violate the rule of confidentiality. Responding out of anger or frustration will just create more problems.   

Privately Resolve the Matter

You could reach out to the individual privately to try to resolve the situation. If the reviewer is truly a client, then the attorney will have the person’s contact information and could attempt to resolve the situation privately. If you can resolve the matter privately, you may even be able to ask the reviewer to remove or amend the review online.

Respond Publicly

Another option for an attorney is to attempt to resolve the situation publicly on the review thread. This is usually the best choice. This gives the attorney a chance to demonstrate civility, courtesy, fairness, and commitment to excellent work in the face of negativity. Obviously, the attorney should be respectful, maintain confidentiality, and be available to the disgruntled client. Also, you must be careful not to reveal any client confidential information. A negative review does not give you carte blanche to talk about the matter.

Ask Happy Clients for Good Reviews

One final way to battle negative online reviews is to reach out to happy clients and ask them to submit good reviews for the law firm. A plethora of positive reviews against one negative review gives the impression that most people are happy with the service they receive. 

Conclusion

When responding to a negative online review, a measured response is the best idea.  Above all, remember that when clients are looking for an attorney to represent them, they want to hire someone they can relate to. An apology for a bad experience and commitment to make things right will go a long way in demonstrating relatability and trustworthiness, and could turn a negative review into a positive marketing tool for the firm.

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Featured Image: "Car, street, balloon and city" by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.
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