Ethical Considerations for Attorneys: Responding to Online Reviews
We all know that positive reviews are some of our best referrals.
They can be great for the firm, as they provide real feedback from clients and
help drive business. It follows that if your firm wants return customers and
referrals, you need to respond to your reviews, both positive and negative.
Why Should We Respond to Online Reviews?
Responding to reviews is important to your firm because it provides
the opportunity for positive engagement with past and future clients. Engaging
briefly and professionally with each review helps to do two important things:
1. It establishes connection with clients, creating a bridge to
future business and referrals.
2. It increases the possibility that issues can be resolved (and a
bad review removed).
In recent surveys, over 70% of consumers expected a response to
online reviews, with most wanting to see a response within 24 hours. Over 80%
said they would consider editing or removing a negative review based upon the
response. We recommend that your firm have policies and procedures in place for
responding to reviews, particularly negative ones.
How Do We Ethically Respond to Reviews?
There have been cases where a response to a legal review catches the
attention of the state bar – you don’t want that. By encouraging positive
conversation in your responses, you can substantially improve your service and
Here are our suggestions:
- Respond to all online reviews, but responses
should be standard and brief.
- For negative reviews, don’t admit having made a
“terrible mistake,” but do apologize and attempt to make things right.
- Do not try to win an argument.
- Don’t discuss details of cases or reveal
personal client information.
We recommend using the THEM method as a guideline for responding to
Timing: Respond within 24 hours
Honesty: Acknowledge bad experience and offer resolution
Empathy: Address the client’s point of view
Message: The goal is resolution, keep it positive
Your response to a negative review can turn a negative into a
positive for both your customer and firm.
Three Additional Ethical Considerations for Legal Reviews:
Asking for reviews:
When , do not tell the client what to write on reviews or (although it may be legal) reward clients for positive reviews.
For bankruptcy lawyers:
Bankruptcy is a personal matter and some clients may not be willing
to discuss their case in a public forum where their name would be associated
with their situation. For these, sites like Lawyers.com & Avvo allow for
anonymous client reviews.
Posting testimonials on your firm’s website:
While most bars allow client testimonials, it is important to
address your state’s ethics rules, restrictions and disclaimers regarding
attorney advertising and testimonials. If there are no special requirements in
your state, it is still advisable to use a disclaimer on your site that
addresses the possibility of unjustified expectations or misleading