The American Bar Association stresses that attorneys consider how they reply to reviews online. That’s because they may unintentionally share privileged lawyer-client information when they respond to a negative comment.
Therefore, the company that handles your online reputation management (ORM) services needs to specialize in attorney marketing online.
Managing reputation management for a legal firm is different from overseeing the same services for a general business.
Attorneys Have a Fiduciary Duty
Not only must lawyers follow the ethics and rules set forth by the American Bar Association (ABA), they must remember their fiduciary duty – one that extends to the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship.
According to the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School, a fiduciary duty involves placing the interests of a client first by using truthfulness, care, loyalty, and good faith. Therefore, in this digital age, online reputation management, especially for lawyers, is a priority.
What the ABA Says about Responding to Negative Comments
In January 2021, the American Bar Association (ABA) released a formal statement and opinion about the ethical responsibilities of lawyers who respond to negative comments online.
According to Opinion 496, the ABA clarified that the organization’s Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(a) prevents lawyers from disclosing details about their representation of a client or any other information that could trigger the discovery of private and confidential legal information.
The ABA recommends that, as a legal best practice, lawyers refrain from replying to negative digital posts or review sand, instead, request the host of the website remove the post, giving a specific reason.
The attorney might also reply by setting that they will contact the client to discuss their grievances off-line.
Also, an attorney might indicate that professional ethics and considerations prevent them from responding online.
Managing ORM is a niche service then – one that focuses on the professional needs of attorneys and how they relate to clients and prospective clients online. That is why you cannot choose a digital marketing firm that does not have direct experience regarding an attorney’s specific reputation management concerns.
Therefore, negative comments must be handled delicately by a digital professional in the attorney marketing field. First impressions count, as do consumer reviews. Pew Research adds that about 82% of people read reviews part of the time while 40%t rely on reviews for making decisions online.
Therefore, a digital marketing agency that focuses on attorney marketing can help you improve your website’s and firm’s reputation.
How to Set Up a Reputation Management Program that Works
To do this, a reputation management program must be designed to guide attorneys on the following:
- Measuring and improving client satisfaction
- Improving client feedback
- Making it easy for clients to post positive reviews
- Ensuring your website is optimized for SEO and is kept up-to-date
- Setting up updated profiles for your firm and each attorney
- Establishing profiles on social media and regularly using the platforms
- Adding blog posts to your site and guest posting on other sites
Managing Positive and Negative Comments
If you wish to collect positive reviews as well as respond to negative comments, you need to take follow the practices below.
Soliciting Positive Reviews
Most comments are made through Google with Yelp following close behind. You can garner positive comments through sites, such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Martndale Hubbell, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The best way to encourage your clients to post comments is to create links from your website profiles and ask satisfied clients to share their experiences. Also, it is helpful to add news articles about major settlements and wins. Follow the guidelines set by applicable legal organizations and bars as well as the platforms you use to communicate.
Responding to Negative Comments
If you choose to respond to negative reviews versus removing them, you need to answer objectively. Again, the ABA offers some helpful tips.
- If the review is truthful, respond positively, emphasizing that you wish to follow up and make things right. Ask if you may contact the client off-line to discuss the matter further so you can correct the situation.
- If the review is not true, use a polite and professional response. Using a measured and logical approach will allow you to shine professionally.
- Never ignore a review. Even a short reply is better than nothing.
If you want to respond to negative comments successfully, set up Google alerts for your firm and attorneys so you can address any new comments.
As Abraham LIncoln said, “You can please some of the people all of the time. You can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” That also applies to online reputation management.
Increase Your Online Presence Now
To ensure you are receiving the best online reputation management services for your legal firm, contact Attorney Marketing Online to boost your law firm’s reputation. Call (888) 992-9529 or (323) 433-6529 today.
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