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We’re nearly halfway through 2018, and, if you haven’t been working on collecting positive reviews for your law firm this year, it’s not too late to start. Like it or not, all attorneys are affected by online reviews.

Online reputation building has become increasingly important for law firms. In 2018, many potential clients look to online reviews (positive, negative, or the lack of reviews altogether) as part of their decision making process when it comes time to hire a law firm.

The confidence that a potential client has about your firm can change when they see good reviews, bad reviews, or no reviews at all. And that can affect your business. While you can’t control what a client will say about their experience with your law firm, you can be proactive about collecting reviews, as well as monitoring and managing your online reputation.

Consider the places where your potential clients can find reviews about you and your law firm.

There are two main places where potential clients are likely to see reviews about you and your law firm. The first, of course, is your law firm’s website.

Client reviews on your law firm’s website

Your website is a great place to add reviews because it’s free from distractions (information about other attorneys, distracting ads and videos, etc.) and you have control over what gets seen. You can decide how many reviews are listed, which reviews get published and in what order they appear.

Client reviews on third-party websites

Unfortunately, your reputation doesn’t exist only on your law firm’s website. There are many third-party websites that feature law firm reviews, and potential clients are likely to see several of these sites.

They may visit these sites while they’re researching your firm directly, or they may start on one of these sites during the general process of looking for an attorney.

No matter where potential clients find a third-party site in the process of looking for an attorney, it’s important to think about these sites — and what your potential clients will find on them — as part of your reputation management.

Be proactive about collecting reviews for your law firm.

Some attorneys think they don’t need to worry about online reputation management if they simply have no reviews, either positive or negative.

But having no reviews can be as problematic as having negative reviews. Potential clients expect to see reviews about a law firm, and having no reviews may signal to them that they need to look to a firm that does have reviews, instead. (A recent survey suggests that 85 percent of consumers trust online recommendations as much as personal recommendations.

So, if you haven’t started asking happy clients for reviews in 2018, now is a good time to start.

Attorneys should build a strong reputation and provide a consistent message to potential clients, no matter where they find information about you. When you can translate the experiences of happy clients into reviews for your law firm, you’ll likely see a positive effect on your firm’s business.

Start taking the time to collect recommendations and reviews from happy former clients. Going forward, you may also want to consider asking current clients for reviews at the conclusion of a case or matter.

Using good technology to collect these recommendations and reviews makes the process easier. (We’ll talk more about using technology below.)

But the major takeaway is this: Collecting reviews is important, but it shouldn’t take up your time and divert your attention away from other important matters (such as helping your clients). Good technology should easily integrate into what you do on a daily basis, allowing you to collect and manage reviews without keeping you from being productive.

Don’t resort to risky practices in order to get law firm reviews.

Many attorneys recognize the importance of having positive reviews about their law firms. However, some attorneys may be engaging in risky practices in order to get a large volume of positive reviews in unnatural ways.

In a recent blog post about obtaining law firm reviews safely, we discussed the considerations attorneys will want to make from both a search engine standpoint and a legal ethics standpoint as they collect online reviews for their firms.

Learn more about this topic by reading “Are You Getting Law Firm Reviews The Safe Way?”

Use the right technology to help you strategically collect, display and manage law firm reviews.

While you could try to collect, display, and manage reviews by hand, doing so yourself would likely take up a great deal of time. And, with more and more review sites to keep track of each year, it’s generally not practical for attorneys to handle reputation management without the right tools.

Having the right technology to assist you with these tasks goes a long way toward helping you gather positive reviews without cutting into your productivity.

Here’s how technology can help you manage reviews on your law firm’s website and on third-party sites.

Using technology to manage reviews on your law firm’s website

You could send individual emails to each of your clients when you’d like them to review your firm, but we believe that using technology to collect reviews for your law firm’s website makes this process much simpler and less time consuming.

The LawLytics system includes a built-in recommendations engine that allows you to collect and add reviews in just a few clicks.

You can send recommendation requests to clients directly from the LawLytics Control Panel. The system emails your request, along with an easy-to-complete form. When the recommender completes the form, their recommendation appears in a queue for your final approval before publication.

The LawLytics system also creates dedicated pages for each review, as well as an index that lets potential clients see reviews that matter most to them. It gives you complete control over which reviews to display.

These recommendations are an important part of your website, but they don’t reach beyond your website. Attorneys should also think about third-party review sites.

Using technology to manage reviews on a third-party website

Third-party review sites often make attorneys think of Google, Avvo, and Yelp. While these are three major review sites that are worth keeping your eye on, there are also dozens of others.

Because your potential clients are influenced by third-party reviews, it makes sense to use a reviews management service (such as the one offered by LawLytics) to help you capture positive reviews, mitigate negative reviews, and build your reputation wherever clients are likely to find you.

The LawLytics Reviews add-on is a strategic tool that we offer to our members that helps them build their online reputations and drive new business to their firms. You can easily gather new client reviews on the third-party sites that are most important to you (such as Google, Avvo, and more). You’ll also be able to monitor all of your reviews from a single control panel, ensuring that when new reviews are posted, you’ll be notified immediately.

To learn more about the LawLytics Reviews add-on, see our Reputation Management page.