Why do lawyers need reputation management?
Your future success will be determined by your reputation. Word gets around – both good and bad. Your reputation as an attorney will spread like wildfire through the ranks of organizations, referral sources, and prospective clients. We’re not trying to scare you, but reputation management is everything.
What type of reputation do you really want? Most lawyers aspire to be viewed by their contacts as fair, hard-working, smart, ethical, client-focused, creative, community-minded, and value-driven, just to name a few. Your reputation has little to do with your education as a lawyer, and more to do with the person you want to present to the world – day in and day out, within your family, with friends, and at work.
Reputations can be destroyed overnight with just one bad decision. There are many examples going on right now in the world. Just think of those who have “fallen from grace.” They had it all and either over time or based on one incident, their reputations were ruined.
Maybe the best reason lawyers need to manage their reputations is because 80 – 90% of all future work happens because clients and other personal contacts refer you.
How does reputation management for attorneys work?
Your reputation is not about how you see yourself. Rather, it’s what others think of when they hear your name or see you at a professional networking event. Are you kind to others and try really hard not to make enemies? Do people seek you out for your expertise, wise counsel, and friendship? Have you been recognized by an organization for your tireless work on their behalf? If so, you likely have a fabulous reputation as a lawyer. That said, we want to continue to help you enhance your reputation with those you meet, on your social media sites, through your presentations, in articles you write, and within your website.
Terrie Wheeler’s Experience with Legal Marketing Ethics
Because honesty and integrity are critical for any professional to know, understand, and radiate to others, lawyers appreciate and value PSM Founder and President, Terrie S. Wheeler’s dedication to the legal ethics system. Terrie spent six years on the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, the last two of which as vice chair. Terrie has dedicated her entire career to helping lawyers understand the rules related to legal marketing services. It’s fair to say that lawyers who repeatedly have clients file ethics complaints against them, will not be the esteemed lawyers that clients and referral sources seek out. Rather, in many cases, their reputations will have suffered.
Questions about Reputation Management for Lawyers?
Contact the reputation management experts at PSM Marketing to reclaim your reputation.
Common Questions about Reputation Management for Lawyers
ORM is Object-Relational Mapping. The reason ORM is important is because most law firms have Contact and Relationship Management databases (CRM). ORM is a programming technique where the website’s metadata is used to tie a law firm’s CRM with its website functionality. Every time someone engages with your law firm on your website, that person and their email address should automatically populate in your CRM. If you receive a lead from Facebook, your CRM should be able to let you know where that lead came from. It’s critical for your lead generation flow to integrate seamlessly with your law firm’s CRM.
Yes – you guessed it. Start by Googling that lawyer. See where they come up in search engine rankings. The higher search engine rankings are, likely the better the lawyer’s reputation. In addition, you can read the lawyers website biography and their LinkedIn profile. Check with your state’s Board of Professional Responsibility to find out if any ethics complaints have been filed against your attorney, or if they have received any type of public discipline. Talk to your friends and family members and ask for attorney recommendations. Finally, if you are hiring a lawyer, talk to two or three and select the person you have the best connection to. Many times, you will be dealing with this person for quite a long time (divorce case, personal injury), so you want to like them, trust them, and respect them.
The first thing you can do is access the law firm’s Google Reviews on their Google My Business page. Look at the lawyer’s LinkedIn page and see if they have any endorsements or recommendations. We like to encourage our clients to “market their services through the eyes of their satisfied clients” and add testimonials to the website. Read the testimonials on the lawyer. See what type of community activities and volunteering the lawyer is engaged in. Generally, lawyers who value community service are focused on really helping people.
Yelp is a business directory service and crowd-sourced review platform. You can list your law firm business on Yelp and solicit clients to review you on Yelp. Whether you are seeking Google reviews, or reviews on Yelp, these activities will help boost your name recognition and the ease with which clients can find you.
The easy answer is don’t work with them. Millions of lawyers located in the United States. In terms of lawyers, it’s generally a buyer’s market. There is a lot of competition for legal work, and it behooves lawyers to manage their reputation and fix a reputation that is perceived as “bad.” There are just too many lawyers to choose from to even entertain working with someone who does not have a stellar recommendation and many positive endorsements and reviews.
There are many ways law firms compete. They compete based on the quality of their website and branding, on the expertise and reputation of their lawyers, and on client perceptions on the law firms ease to work with. Lawyers compete on responsiveness and client service; on expertise and results. That’s why it’s important as a lawyer to make sure you are focused in all areas of marketing including what I refer to as the Four Pillars of Marketing:
- Retain and grow relationships with existing clients and referral sources
- Attract new business
- Increase your name recognition and awareness
- Send clients and referral sources targeted and relevant communications
We’re biased, but we think it’s PSM Marketing. Having worked with lawyers for over 30 years, we have the skills, knowledge and expertise to help lawyers manage or repair their reputation. We once worked with a lawyer who had been publicly reprimanded (as in – it appeared in many newspapers) through the State Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility. When you searched for this lawyer by name, the first three results were all tied to the ethics issue, and it didn’t go away over time. Through PSM Marketing’s knowledge and expertise in content management, we flooded the internet with fresh new content until finally, the ethics links were relegated to page 20 on Google.
This is tricky because you can’t. This is a service that any disgruntled client can use to disparage an attorney, and the attorney has little to no recourse except suing Ripoff Report (which generally doesn’t work). Even if a lawyer sues, the initial complaint is still available, with a small retraction at the bottom of the page saying, “this case was dismissed in court.” Not to scare you, but you do not want an unhappy client letting others know they were unhappy with you. There are just too many public forums like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and yes, Ripoff Report for lawyers to contend with. The best thing is to make client service and client satisfaction your top priority.
PSM’s Terrie Wheeler served as an expert witness on a case where a company filed a false and misleading Ripoff Report which significantly damaged a lawyer’s reputation and business. It is nearly impossible to have a Ripoff Report taken down. Best advice? Hope a client never uses this website. None of the complaints are vetted for accuracy, AND the website has extremely high authority (which means it generally comes up first) because it’s been around since 1998 when many law firms didn’t even have websites. Keep your clients informed and deliver exceptional client service and it’s likely you will never have to deal with this.
Yes. Many large law firms will hire a public and media relations firm to manage the reputation of the law firm and of its lawyers. Professional PR firms will help the law firm create a web-based media kit, as well as an expert directory. They will develop a targeted media list for each area of practice and determine which lawyers should be the spokesperson for each area. In addition, the PR firm is there for any crisis control issue. If there is a controversial case, or a lawyer gets arrested, PR firms are there to advocate for the reputation of the law firm to minimize damage to the law firm. PR firms will also identify opportunities for lawyers to present to trade, industry or business groups, and will pitch stories to the media. One of our clients is using our PR team to secure television appearances on local news stations.
The best way to fix a negative online reputation is to flood the internet with fresh, new content including website pages, blog posts, articles, white papers, and other web-based content. It will take some time, but this strategy will work. It’s a huge commitment to develop new content consistently, which is where a company like PSM Marketing can help.
That’s a sticky one. Generally, if someone leaves a negative Google review, we recommend our clients to just let it be. Many people who rage against their attorney on a public forum don’t have good judgment. It is possible, depending on the mental state of the person, you could leave a brief comment like. “We would be happy to discuss your case if you would call the firm.”