Three Things Law Firms Should Know About Peer Reviews

October 21, 2013

Online ReviewsPeer reviews, those short opinion pieces about a product, restaurant or service that appear on sites like Yelp and Amazon, are multiplying by an order of magnitude.

Everyone is a critic, so people like to write them. More importantly, people like to read them. A study from the University of California-Berkeley, for example, found that a positive Yelp review of a restaurant translated into a 19 percent increase in the likelihood that the restaurant would be full at peak meal times.

Naturally, it is not just restaurants that want in on this trend. Many law firms are exploring peer review sites and potential ways to influence how these sties view the firm because they know that few things are effective as the public endorsement of a satisfied client.

To put it generally, the legal industry has made a few missteps in adapting to the popularity of peer reviews. Here are three recent developments about peer reviews of which you and your firm should be aware:

  • A suburban Chicago lawyer recently sued the ex-husband of a client for posting a review of him on Google Plus. The review claimed the lawyer conducted business in an “underhanded and deceitful way”; the lawyer felt that was defamation.
    • What’s the takeaway: All social media, not just peer reviews, is no longer a one-direction means of communicating.  Certainly, you can (and ought to) make use of powerful social media tools, but do not expect that content you distribute will not go anywhere. It is entirely likely that it will provoke a reaction – a positive one, hopefully, but you need to be prepared in the event that you wind up generating a response you did not intend. To reduce that likelihood, you should have at least a general social media guideline for what you  publish on the Internet  in the first place, as well as a plan for how to respond in the event that a social media item results in an unfavorable reaction.