Safeguarding a Law Firm from Poor Reviews
The internet brings with it plenty of benefits for sharing information, but it also comes with many challenges. It’s so simple for someone to post what they think online for all to see, but the damage some errant word or misleading reviews can cause can be catastrophic. Positive and negative opinions alike are shared on blogs, forums and reviews.
Even during those times when a negative opinion has no basis in truth, there will still be people who will read it and be influenced by it. Any legal practice that suffers from these can experience severe damage, hurting their traffic and reputation. Below, we will cover what you need to do to protect both your law firm and your reputation from these kinds of negative statements.
How Defamation Creates Problems
It’s important to allow free speech and to protect this right, but many businesses and people are hurt by certain free speech on the internet. People posting online feel powerful and may not experience any remorse or shame after they post hurtful or untruthful comments online, simply because they benefit from anonymity. They say things they would not normally say in some other environment, and they feel their speech is protected, even if it hurts other people or is unnecessarily negative.
It can be hard for businesses to deal with the rapid spread of negative information online.
While slander laws do protect people to some degree, no law enforces slander and libel as strenuously online as it does offline.
Your Reputation Can Be Affected by Negative Reviews
For an attorney, your reputation is vital to your career. If you work on your own, in a private practice, then most of the cases sent your way come to you because of your reputation. That is why it is so important to protect your reputation. Many times, it may only take a single upset customer to derail your entire practice and tarnish your good name. You definitely don’t want the first result people see when they search your name online to be a negative one. You should know that unpreceded numbers of people are using online attorney review sites, such as LawyerRatingz.com. While many positive reviews are hosted there, plenty of negative ones are as well.
Your Rights and Free Speech
Typically, only those lawyers who work on libel and slander cases will understand the full extent of their rights as they pertain to free speech. Right now, the law allows free speech on the internet to go mostly unhindered. People who have been slandered online have few options available to them to stop this kind of negative press. In order for the words to necessitate legal action, the target will have to prove that those words were written or said in malice and without regard for the truth.
Opinion and Fact Are Treated Differently by the Law
Many times, when someone posts something online, negative or not, it is seen as an opinion by the law. It can be very difficult to prove that what they wrote was written in malice.
Even the sites that host defamatory content may not be held responsible for that content, so long as they did not write it themselves. That can make it incredibly hard to get content removed from sites.
It will often take a lot of work and time to get something removed from a site, even after you prove it is untrue or defamatory.
While the law regarding online content can be quite challenging, you can still safeguard your online reputation and your legal practice’s reputation. Your best means of defence may be taking a proactive stance. You can start by getting your profile out to as many review sites and professional sites as possible. Make sure the profile contains everything your potential customers will need to know about you. You may also be able to provide legal advice through some websites, and that can give your reputation a boost.
It’s a good idea to go to sites that cater to your area of legal expertise. You should also buy up your domain name and variations on it- in other words, any domain name that has your legal name, followed by a “.com”.
It may help to start using blogs and forums to get the word out about your practice and to prove useful by providing information to people that shows you are a legal expert.
Keep Tabs on Your Reputation Online
While you may feel like you have done all you can to keep your reputation positive, you still need to keep track of what people are saying about you online. If you perform regular searches for your name online, it might surprise you what you find. It can take time to keep track of what people are saying and determine if the majority of it is good or bad, but you can get professional help. Our team will work with you to ensure that your reputation recovers and that you get your practice back where it needs to be by managing your reputation.
Hopefully, the guidelines we have laid out here will help you, but please feel free to contact us, if you feel you need additional assistance.