How to Use Online Lawyer Reviews to Grow Your Practice

As more day-to-day interactions move online, prospective clients may just as likely find your small law firm through a Google search for online lawyer reviews as through word-of-mouth. Great news, right? You have an SEO-friendly, well-designed website that’s a breeze to navigate and clearly describes your legal practice. But if you want to stand out from the competition, you can’t underestimate the importance of testimonials.

COVID-19 upended marketing as we know it. As e-commerce grew by necessity, more and more customers used online reviews to inform purchases and compare products – in turn leaving their own reviews. Research shows that online reviews worldwide doubled in the year after the pandemic began, according to McKinsey & Company.

The same holds true in the legal services ecosystem. More than three-quarters (76%) of people searching for legal help read online lawyer reviews — and take them seriously — while determining whether to retain your services. And data shows 85% of customers find online reviews to be as trustworthy as a personal recommendation.

So, how do you optimize the power of online lawyer reviews to grow your prospective clients’ trust — and your business?

Looking for feedback? Just ask.

Sometimes earning a positive client review is as simple as sending an email. Reach out to your satisfied clients and request a testimonial describing how you and your staff helped navigate a complicated legal problem. If possible, ask for details on your professional process and the skills that set your team apart. Would they recommend your firm to friends and family? If so – why?

Streamline your testimonial process. If you’re reaching out to several clients to ask for online lawyer reviews, save time by sending a survey to fill out at their convenience. It may be tempting to create dozens of questions and ask for exhaustive detail, but brevity is key. Make sure the survey takes less than 10-15 minutes to complete or your clients may delay the task or fail to answer.

Make the process as seamless as possible for your client. Create a profile for your small law firm on trusted legal ranking websites like Justia.com, Lawyers.com, Avvo and Google. Include a link to the review site when reaching out to your clients.

You’ve received negative feedback. Here’s what to do next:

 Though you make every effort to meet a client’s expectations, circumstances outside your control sometimes prevent matters from working out to their satisfaction. Or perhaps someone on your team makes a mistake. Negative online lawyer reviews on high-profile sites like Google are far from ideal, but they don’t need to spell disaster for your small legal practice.

Engagement is key, according to a study of tens of thousands of TripAdvisor reviews of hotels. Experts found that when hotel managers responded to both positive and negative online reviews, their overall rating went up and they generated additional reviews. Another trend: business owners who consistently engaged with reviewers were less likely to receive negative feedback.

Crafting a response to a negative review requires diplomacy and restraint. First, take the time to collect yourself and gather your thoughts. Then address the client’s complaints professionally and tactfully, in a way that shields you from future legal action from that client. Make it clear that you wish to resolve the issue to the client’s satisfaction. Offer to take the conversation offline and out of the public sphere where you can better negotiate with the client and find a solution.

Though negative feedback is unpleasant and stressful for any business owner, once you successfully handled a negative online lawyer review you’ll be better prepared to address them in the future — or avoid them altogether.

Need to generate reviews, track responses and get organized? Tech tools are here to help.

While some legal professionals prefer to manage online lawyer reviews by engaging with clients one on one, as you expand your legal practice you may find it helpful to automate the process. With Smokeball’s Legal Tasks and Workflows, your team is automatically reminded to ask clients for positive reviews at a pre-set stage in the case. And thanks to Smokeball’s Communicate client portal, you can request client testimonials and securely share and review related documents all in one place. Because your clients can access every past interaction with your firm through Communicate, evidence of your value will be immediately at hand as they write their reviews.

And don’t forget to thank your clients for providing a positive review! Their trust and willingness to share a worthwhile experience with your small law firm reaches more potential clients than word of mouth ever could, thanks to the power of online channels.

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