Home Legal Marketing Are Online Attorney Reviews
A Fair Representation?
Are Online Attorney Reviews A Fair Representation?

Are Online Attorney Reviews
A Fair Representation?


Online reviews have become a prevalent feature for service industries. In many cases, online reviews provide a convenient way for customers to access information. Readers can gain insight into a business based on the experiences of others. However, these reviews may not be as effective for specialized services. Clients seeking legal representation cannot always get a complete picture from an online review.

Online reviews for attorneys present unique issues. Legal services are more complex than those of a standard business. In addition, each case is unique. Attorneys tailor their work to meet the needs of each particular client. A review posted by one client may not be applicable for the issues faced by another.

Further complications arise from the anonymity of online reviews. The content of a review may be less reliable when the identity of the writer is unknown. This is particularly important for attorneys. In order to provide effective service, it is essential for an attorney to discuss the facts of each case with the client. Anonymous postings may claim to speak for the general skill or competence of an attorney. But without hearing from the attorney in question, potential clients are left with an incomplete idea of what to expect.

Another problem with online reviews is their reliability. Various websites allow companies to purchase favorable reviews. At freelancer.com, writers can be hired to produce reviews. This results in a less accurate depiction of the business. Although there may be genuine posts included, online reviews present an inherent level of uncertainty. This is particularly problematic for legal services. When seeking an attorney, it is crucial for a potential client to have a trustworthy source of information.

Legal clients may face further issues finding the right attorney due to the manipulation of search results. Law firms can use social media websites such as Google Plus to enhance search engine optimization (SEO). Optimization techniques can allow certain firms to appear more frequently when clients conduct a search for a certain legal term or issue. These practices may be more reflective of internet savviness than of legal expertise. In addition, clients may miss out on the attorney who is best suited to their needs.

More general online reviews can be found at websites such as Yelp. These reviews can be very effective at helping customers narrow down their options from available local businesses. Customers can share past experiences to help others make a choice. However, these reviews cover a broad range of areas. A person seeking an attorney may require more detailed information when making a decision.

Avvo offers a more narrowly tailored approach. This online directory provides a listing of local attorneys and reviews from their past clients. Clients can also find legal articles and links to attorney websites. However, they do not receive information from specific attorneys about their particular issue. These posts present the same problem as other online attorney reviews. The experience of one client may not be relevant to the situation of another.

Another issue with online reviews is the potential for misuse. In any competitive industry, one business can procure poor reviews of another. This would be one way of reducing the rating of a competing firm. Although unethical, the possibility for this type of conduct is a risk taken by customers when using online reviews.

Online reviews can be further obscured by reviewer motivation. A customer of any business may be more likely to post an online review after a negative experience. This type of platform offers a convenient way to express frustration if a customer is dissatisfied. If a customer is pleased with his experience, he may not feel the need to leave feedback. This lack of balance can create a distorted picture of a business for future customers. This is significant for attorneys when the outcome of a case could have a greater impact on a review than the quality of representation.

Negative reviews also offer a limited perspective of a customer’s experience. These descriptions of the business will always be one-sided. In the case of attorneys, online reviews do not present a comprehensive picture. Legal issues can often be complex and ongoing matters. An online review does not reveal whether a client was cooperative or whether his expectations were reasonable. These can be major factors in determining the success of an attorney-client relationship.

Business owners face an obstacle when reviews are posted unfairly. It can be difficult to remove bad, false, or defamatory reviews. Removing a review from Yelp is a complicated process. For one thing, proving that a review is unjustified can be time-consuming. For attorneys on Avvo, removing reviews is extremely difficult. This can unfairly compromise the quality of information available to potential clients.

Traditional customer reviews are not always reliable, particularly in the legal field. When faced with a legal issue, it is essential for clients to have confidence in the attorney they choose. Since clients do not know the origin of online reviews, there is a limited amount of trust they can place in their contents. Furthermore, each client is unique and each issue requires a specific approach. Online reviews may oversimplify the process of seeking legal representation, to the point that clients are left with unhelpful information. Local Lawyer Guide allows clients to hear directly from potential lawyers. They can make their own judgments and find a lawyer who is best suited to their needs.

Are you a business owner or an attorney with an online review history? Have you found reviews to be positive or negative? Are online reviews constructive for your business? Please share your thoughts!

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Tighe Wilhelmy
Tighe Wilhelmy
Tighe Wilhelmy is the co-founder of Local Lawyer Guide, a national video production and listing service for attorneys. He is passionate about improving the way lawyers market themselves, while creating a platform that consumers are able to use for both legal assistance and education. Tighe genuinely enjoys all areas of marketing, including but not limited to search engine marketing and video marketing. He graduated from Arizona State University and currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.


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