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5 Top Developments for Dealing With Angry Online Lawyer Reviews

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on June 21, 2016 12:59 PM

Lawyering in the age of Yelp can pose some tricky issues. No one likes to be reviewed like they were the neighborhood Thai restaurant, especially when the review is negative, or even false. But lawyers with online reviews are more likely to be hired.

And while online review sites have been around for more than a decade now, best practices and the law are both evolving. To help keep you up to date, here are the top five recent developments in online lawyer reviews, from the FindLaw archives.

1. Attorneys With Online Reviews Are More Likely to Be Hired

You can't hide from online reviews, at least not without sacrificing a good number of potential clients. According to a survey by FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing, two-thirds of consumers would be more likely to hire an attorney who has online reviews. But don't worry; if you can't entirely control your online reputation, you can certainly manage it. Here's how.

2. Yelp! Negative Reviews Require Professionalism, Ethics

The vast majority of people who leave online reviews leave positive ones. But all it takes is one disgruntled client to leave a stain on your (online) reputation. When faced with negative reviews, however, be sure to take a deep breath and address the problem with professionalism.

3. Lawyer Sues Client Over Bad Online Review, Wins $350,000

When a client posts an unflattering review, there's not too much an attorney can do about it besides responding politely. That wasn't the case for one Florida lawyer, however. Faced with a review that was false and disparaging, she took a former client to court -- and won $350,000 in punitive damages.

4. Yelp Ordered to Remove Defamatory Lawyer Review

Sites that host defamatory reviews are insulated from liability under the Communications Decency Act, which can make removing false user-generated content difficult. But, that could be changing. A California appeals court recently upheld an injunction requiring Yelp to review an angry review made against a law firm.

5. Tricky Lawyer Turns Defamation Battle Into Copyright Dispute

On the other side of the country, another online review battle has shifted from defamation to copyright. After a Massachusetts attorney was the subject of a defamatory post on Ripoff Report, he sued and convinced the court to transfer him ownership of the copyright to the negative post, then suing the site for violating his copyright by leaving the post up. The Second Circuit could soon decide whether the attorney's maneuvering was valid or not.

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