The importance of online reviews for law firms

Attorney shaking hands with client

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  Collecting reviews on Google

  Collecting reviews on Facebook

  Collecting reviews on FindLaw


Your online reputation influences a legal consumer’s decision to hire you much more than you might think. The 2023 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey found that recommendations were the second-most popular factor clients used when choosing an attorney and the second-most used online tool behind only search engines. In fact, 65% of respondents said reviews from former clients were an important factor in their hiring decision — and clients are
eager to write positive reviews. It’s a digital world out there, one where perfect strangers are helping each other find an attorney, and where they trust law firms with a long list of some of the best reviews. 

Of course, word-of-mouth referrals are still important. However, they can take a long time to pay off and they have little effect on the digital world, which is where many people find most of their information these days. That’s why word-of-mouth reviews are no longer enough to maintain a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace. 

Online reviews help expand the scope of your reputation by allowing more people access to the opinions of former clients, distinguishing you from the law firm down the road. Let’s look at where to gather reviews and how to ask former clients to rate your firm.

Where do you collect reviews? 

The simple answer? Everywhere. While that fact might seem intimidating, it’s true. Reviews across multiple online platforms will reach your prospective clients no matter where they’re looking for an attorney. But if you want to narrow it down, focus on Google and Facebook, the two companies that dominate digital advertising and where most people end up during their search. 

Google

It’s safe to assume there are more than a few personal injury attorneys in and around Austin. That’s where reviews come into play. If all things are equal between firm A and firm B, an extensive archive of positive online reviews could be the differentiator when Google decides who to prioritize in a search.  

Google knows that consumers are heavily influenced by ratings, and they are interested in hiring an attorney with a quality online reputation. That’s why the more positive reviews your firm has, the easier it is for local consumers to find your law firm online — and that’s exactly what you want, because FindLaw research has shown that most consumers with a legal need only reach out to one attorney. You want that attorney to be you.

Facebook

It’s important to note that Facebook and Google serve different purposes for your next client. If Google is where people search for an attorney, Facebook fills in any blanks on the firm they’ve already found. Most people on Facebook are performing a “branded search,” which means they know who you are, they’ve done some preliminary research, and are now looking at your social media pages for more information. 

Facebook provides the validation consumers need before contacting your law firm, and that validation often comes from ratings. Your Facebook presence may have an effective combination of posts, pictures, and videos, but it isn’t complete without detailed reviews from past clients. 

 

Ratings on social media are especially effective because of how personal they are. Unlike the anonymous reviews someone can leave on search engines, Facebook puts a name — and a face — behind a person’s opinion of you. 

Facebook is slightly different than Google in how they collect reviews. Instead of a five-star rating scale, they simply ask someone if they’d recommend your law firm with “yes” or “no” options. From there, a consumer can fill in details of their experience with your law firm.

FindLaw

FindLaw’s Ratings and Reviews platform makes asking for and managing reviews easier and more effective. With a Review button added to your FindLaw website, clients are left with no doubt as to what action to take, and you are given access to a dashboard where you can view recent reviews, verify them, and respond to each review directly no matter which third-party site it’s on. Many law firms find this platform makes requesting and handling reviews easier and more efficient.

How do you get reviews?

The first thing to do is ask. If a matter went well and you are about to wind up, ask the client to leave a review about their experience. Also, let them know you’ll be following up with an email, including links to your Google My Business, Facebook, and FindLaw listing. 

The email should be from your account and include non-sensitive details about the client like personal notes that make the request unique. You can create a standard email template, but leave a section that’s customizable and do your best to tailor the email to the individual. It shows that you value their opinion, which motivates them to leave a review.

While asking former clients to rate your firm is encouraged, persuading them to leave a positive review or trying to game the system is frowned upon by both review platforms and consumers alike. Google or Facebook could penalize you for what they consider deceptive practices like setting up a kiosk in your office, incentivizing five-star reviews, or asking for ratings from friends and family. 

No matter how you gather reviews, remember that they affect your online reputation and are influential for legal consumers. People want to know the experiences of past clients, and they’re willing to trust the opinion of people they’ve never met.

Webcast: Boost your law firm's online reputation

Learn effective strategies for leveraging positive online reviews and gain insight into the perspectives of both consumers and attorneys when writing reviews.

Guide: Making online reviews work for your law firm

In this guide, you’ll learn three proven techniques for cultivating and asking for more attorney reviews from clients.

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