Pennsylvania Firm Faces Lawsuit Over Allegedly Fake Online Reviews
The Pursuit of Five-Star RatingsMany consumers rely on online reviews when choosing a firm to handle their legal issue. However, many review sites include an aggregate score, so isolated bad reviews can drag down a firm’s overall rating. For some, the temptation to balance the scales is too strong to resist, even though a few less-than-optimal reviews can actually be a good thing, since consumers tend to see it as a sign the reviews are real.
Suspicious Reviews Can Lead to Serious ProblemsThe practice of writing fake reviews – sometimes called “astroturfing” – has concerned regulators for several years. A 2013 investigation in New York discovered that at least 19 “reputation-enhancement services” were generating fraudulent reviews for businesses in the state, including a few law firms. Around the same time, Yelp sued a law firm in California for posting fake reviews. Then, in 2016, what began as a relatively straightforward legal malpractice suit by Tabatha Wolfe of Pennsylvania became a fight over allegedly fraudulent reviews. According to Wolfe, many of the rave reviews she relied on when deciding to retain Kraemer Manes & Associates for her workplace sexual harassment suit were fake. Kraemer Manes now faces a class action suit, spearheaded by Wolfe, claiming non-lawyer employees of the firm were encouraged to solicit 5-star reviews from friends and relatives. In its motion to dismiss, the firm denied any wrongdoing regarding its online reviews. This case’s results will be interesting to observe – and may serve as a warning sign for any business looking to fake five stars.
- Online Reviews and Defamation (FindLaw’s Law Firm Management)
- Attorney Accused of Filing ADA Complaints for Clients Who Don’t Exist (FindLaw’s Strategist)
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