Online Reputation Management For Small Law Firms (part 1)

October 9, 2012

Few would argue that the Internet has failed to make life easier, from securing deals on sunny vacations to finding the case citation that will make a brief shine. The heightened accessibility of information; however, can also change what might have been a mere bitter whisper into a windstorm of bad publicity. Online reputation management is a recent but vital concern for many solo practitioners and small law firms.

Online reputation management refers to how we handle the information on the Internet about us and our businesses, in addition to the ways we supplement and shape that information.

How do you know what they’re saying?

An easy way to find out whether there is chatter about you is to “Google yourself.” Instead of starting every day by entering your name in a browser, though, you can go to Google Alerts and create an immediate, daily or weekly email notification for when your name or your firm’s name is mentioned on the Internet.

You can make the most of this free service by creating alerts about your partners, your competitors or hot legal issues that concern you.

Can you control what they’re saying?

The short answer is “no.” This is one of the many ways the Internet resembles a schoolyard: You can’t control what people say about you, but you can control how you react. Information, especially negative information, can travel fast — sometimes you’re surrounded by allies, and sometimes you run into the class bully.

If you know that information posted about your or your firm is incorrect, you may wish to consider contacting the website and requesting that the information be taken down. Keep in mind, however, that this type of action can create a backlash, and consider whether other tactics would succeed more quickly and quietly.

In general, it is easy to place information on the Internet and difficult to remove it; the Internet has a long memory. But you can have a positive overall influence on your Internet presence.

The next post will discuss how to address problems and how to avoid them in the first place.