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How Should an Attorney Handle Negative Online Reviews?

One of the biggest fears lawyers have about getting reviews is that they will get a bad one. They want only 5-star reviews, and any 1-star pans will lower their average and tank their practice. They are so fearful that this will happen that they don’t ask for reviews, and as a result, don’t get them. Well, I’m here to say:

Get over it!

The more reviews you have the better, even if some of them are bad, and if you don’t have lots of reviews, your competition is going to eat your lunch! So, don’t fear the bad reviews and ask for them constantly because, believe it or not,

Bad Reviews are Good for You!

Wait, what? Bad reviews are good for me? Why? They lower my score! Well, yes and no. The key is to have lots of reviews. The more 5-star reviews you have, the less the 1-star ones will hurt you, and as such, the less you should fear them.

It’s all about the law of averages. The more 5s you have, the less the 1s will matter. So the more reviews you get, the less the bad ones will affect you. Besides, if you are getting lots of 1- and 2-star reviews, you have bigger problems that online scores!

The Key Is In How You Respond

People reading reviews about you care more about how you respond than what the bad review said. If you handle it well, you will impress that prospect, rather than have them turned off by the bad review. But how should you respond?

Thank Them for the Review

First of all, look on the bad review as an opportunity to improve. Don’t be defensive or argue with them; thank them for taking the time to write the review and bringing their bad experience to your attention, so you can correct it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. This keeps people from thinking you are being defensive, while showing them that you take complaints seriously. Besides, it’s the last thing people would expect you to do!

Empathize and Apologize

Next, be sure to express empathy and understanding in your response. You should also go so far as to apologize for their disappointment and frustration and offer to resolve the problem. This shows to others looking at your reviews that you are dedicated to quality work and a good client experience because you respond quickly and sympathetically, which puts you own a good light.

You might also be able to resolve that problem with that client and get them back to being someone who might refer you to others! Even if it’s something that can’t be resolved, explaining the circumstances as to why can be powerful.

Invite Them to Discuss

Finally, invite the negative reviewer to contact you offline to discuss the problem. Ask them to give you a call. This helps maintain confidentiality, puts the ball back into the reviewer’s court, and shows to the people looking at your reviews that you are willing to address and discuss client concerns.

Don’t Get Into an Online Argument

After you respond to the unhappy client, they may respond back. This will either be in a conciliatory or complimentary manner (which will rehabilitate the bad review) or they will continue to argue how unhappy they are. If the former, just respond by saying how pleased you are that their dissatisfaction has been resolved. If the latter, repeat your offer to discuss it with them offline to work it out. If they continue to respond negatively, stop and do not respond again. It will only devolve into a negative back and forth that won’t help you.

You should respond to all reviews, good or bad, but it is your response to the negative ones that will help you build a good reputation, convert more site visitors, and get more people to refer you!

There are so many things you need to do to market your law firm, but getting reviews is critical. Potential clients want social proof that you are the right lawyer for them, and reviews can act like a referral from a friend. There is also evidence that it can help them find you in Google search results!

You Need a System!

You should have a system for getting reviews, and automate it as much as possible. This will ensure that you are consistently asking for them every time, thus increasing your chances of success.Then you can spend the time you save doing all the other marketing tasks on your list! Need help creating an effective system for getting more reviews? Just give me a call at 856-345-9699 for a free, no obligation consult to see if I can help.

Want great business and professional practice tips in your inbox every week? Then subscribe to my newsletter! You can also get a copy of my bookGetting Off the Hamster Wheel, for a more comprehensive discussion of how you can regain control of your practice and make more money!

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Steven J. Richardson

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