How to Respond to Negative Online Attorney Reviews

In this new feature, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism will be answering questions about ethical quandaries and issues in the business of practicing law.

QUESTION: “I had a perfect ranking going on a popular attorney review website until a former client posted a negative review about his case. This former client was clearly more upset about the judge’s ruling against him than the quality of my representation, which included a well-advised consultation on the costs and risks he was taking with the litigation from the start. He’s just wrong, and I want to set the record straight with an online reply. I have a right to defend my work, correct?”

ANSWER: Hippocrates is often credited with originating the phrase, “Desperate times call for desperate matters.” This, my friend, is not one of those times.

Take a moment and step back from the situation. Evaluate.

Attacks on our personal and professional abilities can hit close to home and elicit a dramatic, immediate response. It’s in our nature to defend ourselves and our work, even from the tritest comments. You may feel desperate to respond in haste to save face before your attacker and all those observing.

Don’t do it. Or at least don’t do it until you have properly evaluated the entire situation and drafted a well-crafted reply — if needed at all.

Push the Pause Button

First, analyze the negative review to determine if it is inappropriate or is in violation of the terms of service of the site. This should begin with confirming that it is actually a legitimate negative review. Was the person posting actually your client? Did he mistake you for another attorney with the same or similar name? Do you have reason to contest or report the posted review?

Various online resources allow you to control how a reviewer’s comments may be viewed by others, or how you may report a suspected false or problem review or comment. Two popular online portals, LinkedIn and Avvo, offer varied options for a user:

READ MORE Attorney At Work April 25, 2017

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