When You Can Delete Unfair Attorney Reviews & When To Respond
When your law firm gets a nasty comment from an online reviewer, you—or the person at your firm who monitors reviews—might experience a flash of negative emotions.
First, disbelief. What did we do wrong? Then, anger. Who’s this jerk saying unfair things about our attorneys?
You may be tempted to call for a furious response, exposing all the ways the writer erred. For the greater good of your online reputation, you should resist that urge.
So instead you may wonder if you can get the review removed altogether.
Sometimes, you can.
The Firmidable team got key insights on this precise topic at the international Pubcon digital marketing conference in Las Vegas.
This point is important for legal marketing because your online reputation management has become a greater factor than ever in your firm’s ability to attract clients via the internet.
In this blog post we’ll cover:
- Option 1: When your firm can file a request for a bad review to be deleted.
- Option 2. When to courteously respond to the review instead.
Option 1: Get the Negative Law Firm Review Deleted
This can be controversial. A tenet of good reputation management is making sure your reviews are authentic, whether they’re good or bad.
If your firm is trying to get every critical review deleted, that can backfire. You lose credibility when other online operators see you trying to game the system.
This process is controlled by the sites where people post lawyer reviews, like Google reviews, Yelp, Facebook, Avvo and others. Those sites generally won’t automatically let you take down bad reviews of your law firm. They’ll stand by reviews they deem to be authentic.
But in certain circumstances, you have grounds to get a negative review nixed. You can protect yourself against flagrantly unfounded reviews. When you send your appeal to the site hosting the review, you can flag one of these problems:
- The review is from someone who didn’t interact with your firm directly. Normal industry standards state that a reviewer must be the actual client in order to leave a review. If they’re writing on behalf of another person, saying, for example, that their husband or wife was the one who had a bad experience with a lawyer, you could get that review removed.
- The review references an employee that doesn’t work at your firm. If you can show Google/Yelp/whoever that the review is referring to bad service from a person who’s never been on your payroll, you have grounds for removal.
- The review is clearly bogus. Sometimes, a competitor might leave a fake review. Or it’s a bot leaving a review that doesn’t even pertain to your practice. If you can prove these reviews are fake, the platform should delete it.
Option 2: Respond to the Criticism of Your Legal Practice
If the review is legitimately from an unhappy person who worked with your firm, then your reputation management team members need to take a deep breath. Exorcise those negative demons out of your system. Then consider the image your law firm projects with its response.
At Pubcon, we heard from Damon Gochneaur, owner and founder of a digital marketing agency called Aspiro, who suggested you establish a safeguard in your system for responding to reviews: have someone whose role is not directly tied to your revenue stream respond to your reviews.
“You have to stay calm and fix the situation,” Damon said. “If you wrestle the pig, everyone gets muddy.”
In certain situations, a negative review can help your reputation. If you respond calmly, express regret for someone’s poor experience, and point out how you’ll investigate the situation and fix any problems going forward, it makes your firm a more sympathetic actor on the internet.
Pubcon speakers said the tone your firm uses in responding to reviews is an extension of your firm’s brand. Because the character of your firm comes through in your response to reviews, even a few bad ratings can end up working in your favor as future clients see your thoughtful response.
This is a process you can set up within your firm. A legal marketing agency can help you run a systematic reputation tracking program that can streamline this operation. If you want to fine-tune your reputation management strategy, talk to Firmidable today.
Firmidable has been a national expert in legal marketing for almost 30 years. It brings law firms customized, data-driven marketing strategies and services, including online and traditional media for a wide range of legal practices. From Maine to Hawaii, it has transformed the lives of attorneys—and their clients.