How to Handle a Negative Review as an Attorney

Guest Post by Garrett Smith

Working in the legal industry isn’t easy, and it’s not always possible to keep everyone happy when the outcome isn’t what they desired. Regardless of what type of law you practice, it’s important to maintain your reputation if you want to continue working successfully.

Websites like Avvo,, and LegalMatch have all been created to help people find the best legal representation for their circumstance. Because of how important and stressful legal proceedings can be, people are placing more and more weight on how a lawyer looks online before they begin working together.


One of the easiest, and most popular, ways for someone to learn more about a lawyer and find the right representative for them is to check review platforms like Avvo. On these sites, lawyers are listed amongst others in their field and area so that people can compare possible representatives. Everything from years in practice and how well they’ve been rated by previous clients is taken into consideration before that person picks up the phone to contact you.

This is why it’s so important to manage your online reputation and to adequately handle your online rating and reviews. Without careful monitoring, many lawyers have fallen victim to upset clients and competitors leaving negative or fake reviews on their profiles.

To help you best manage your reputation, we’ll be covering how you can handle negative reviews as an attorney so that your online reputation can represent the reality of your quality services.

Why It Pays Off to Manage Your Online Reviews

Many search engines, like Google, use the ratings listed on professional platforms as a part of their ranking process. The better your rating is, and the better your reviews say you are, the more highly Google will want to list your profiles in comparison with your competitors.

Over time, managing your online reputation will ultimately pay you back as more potential clients reach out to you because they want to work with the best. However, they’ll only really be able to know how great of a legal representative you are if they can learn about your directly from what your clients are saying.

More people are now trusting online reviews – even more than a recommendation by a friend or family member. This is why it’s so integral for attorneys to manage their online reviews and continually solicit new ones from clients.

How to Get More Reviews On Your Professional Profiles

In the past, some attorneys believed that asking clients for online reviews was an easy way to get inundated with negative reviews. These days, it’s important for people in the legal industry to get as many reviews as possible – even if some may be negative.

For many consumers, a professional profile with all great, 5-star reviews is suspicious. Though negative reviews are never a pleasure to receive, they do lend authenticity to your profile. More importantly, they also give you a chance to publicly respond and allow potential customers to see that you take their experiences and feedback seriously.

When you boost the number of reviews on your profile, you’ll also be able to buffer yourself from the damages that negative reviews can inflict on your rating. For example, if you only have two 5-star ratings and someone leaves a 1-star rating, you’ll be dropped down to a 3.6. In another scenario, someone with ten 4-star ratings who received a 1-star rating will only be dropped by 0.4 points.

To gain more reviews, many attorneys elect to ask their clients in person following the conclusion of their case. This personal approach is often successful and continues to reinforce that you care. However, many legal representatives also choose to adopt a reputation management tool that will allow them to automate the process and effectively check back in with clients after a personal request.

By sending a text or email directly to a client, complete with a personalized message and a link to a specific profile, you’ll be able to greatly improve the likelihood that someone will actually leave a review.

Over time, soliciting reviews will allow you to build your reputation and overall rating so that you can stay a step ahead of your competitors.

Responding to a Negative Review

After you’ve adopted an online reputation management strategy, you should begin to see new reviews come in. Though it’s more likely that you’ll be receiving great feedback from your clients, it’s always possible that a negative or fake review will be left on your profile.

Learning how to handle this situation appropriately can help you provide context to potential clients who are reading this review – but it will also give you the opportunity to clarify and repair things with the reviewer.

So, when you need to respond to a negative review, here’s what you can do to best handle the situation:

Find out if they were a client of yours

When someone leaves a negative review for you, you’ll need to do a little bit of research prior to moving forward.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to find out if the reviewer was a real client of yours. This is important because, if you aren’t able to confirm their identity, your response will have to change.

Keep in mind that people’s usernames aren’t always an exact match to their legal name. For example, someone named Jennifer Jones may have a username that reads “JenJo81.” To help work around these differences, you can compare the timeline of when you worked with a client named Jennifer Jones and when JenJo81 left you a review.

Ask your staff if they remember the situation

If someone leaves a negative review that details a specific situation that you don’t remember, you can check with your staff.

In some cases, a reviewer will discuss a “rude” front desk representative when they’re leaving a negative review on your profile. While this isn’t unavoidable, it’s clear that the negative review isn’t actually aimed at your services. Again, this will change the way that you respond to that review.

When no one in your office recalls the information described in a negative review, you can feel confident in mentioning that in your response.

Respond with an invitation to discuss the matter privately

Once you have finished researching whether or not the reviewer was a client of yours, and checked with your staff to see if they recall the situation described, you can move on to responding to that review.

If you know that the person is a confirmed client, you can send over a response that looks like:

“Hi (NAME), thank you for reaching out to me about your experience. I am very sorry to hear that you were dissatisfied with your legal representation. Everyone in our office works very hard to get the best outcomes possible for our clients. That being said, I want to talk to you about your experience and how we can improve. Please contact me directly at (NUMBER or EMAIL)”

If you were unable to confirm that the reviewer was a client, your response may be a little bit more vague:

“Hi (NAME), I’m sorry to hear about your experience. I was unable to confirm you as a client, and the situation you described doesn’t sound like something that happened in our office. Please contact me directly at (NUMBER or EMAIL) to discuss what happened. It is important to me that we confirm your situation and improve in the future.”

In some cases, you may notice that a blatantly fake review has been left on your profile. In that case, you have the choice to use a response similar to the one listed above, or something like:

“Hi (NAME), we were not able to confirm the information and circumstances mentioned in your review. Your details don’t seem to link to any of our recent cases; would it be possible that you meant to leave this review elsewhere? Regardless, I’d love to talk to you about your situation – please contact me at (NUMBER or EMAIL) so that we can reach a resolution.”

When you quickly find a new review, whether it’s positive or negative, you’ll be able to appropriately handle and respond to it without leaving anything up in the air. Real clients of yours will appreciate your considerate response and dedication to improving your services, while potential clients will see that you are actively engaged with client feedback.


About the author:

Garrett Smith is the Founder of RepCheckup, an online review management software used by lawyers and law firms throughout the United States. He has been helping businesses thrive through sales and marketing since 1999.