The Best Way Your Law Firm Can Respond to a Negative Client Review

While no law firm wants to receive a negative client review, there are strategies for responding to these reviews with grace and professionalism. Inviting the client to discuss their concerns offline and acknowledging your firm’s investment in the client experience are great places to start.

Law firms, especially smaller ones, thrive by word-of-mouth recommendations. When one of your former clients is satisfied with your services, they will send other people your way when a legal question arises. While many law firms still depend on personal recommendations from one friend to another, online reviews are just as important to keep your law firm visible to those looking for legal services in your area. Many people read a law firm’s online reviews before deciding whether to schedule an appointment. Site visitors often rely on the experiences of other clients to inform their own decisions, even if they do not know your reviewers personally. By now, your law firm recognizes the power of client reviews and how essential it is to monitor the review sites to ensure that the reviews your clients are writing reflect the quality of the legal services you are providing. Although no law firm wants to receive a negative client review, a less-than-stellar review may arise at some point. Instead of assuming the worst, it’s essential that you take some time to craft an effective strategy for responding to and addressing the client’s feedback. In fact, how your law firm responds to negative client reviews can ultimately boost your professional reputation and encourage potential clients to enlist your services, as they will appreciate your thoughtful and meaningful approach to navigating this challenging situation. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective strategies your law firm can take in the face of a negative client review.

Take Time to Absorb the Negative Review

Receiving criticism is often uncomfortable, especially when the feedback seems unwarranted. As soon as you read a former client’s negative review of your law firm, it’s natural to feel an impulse to fire off a response to set the record straight. However, knee-jerk responses tend to come across as combative and defensive, which can escalate tensions further and provoke the reviewer to dig in even more. Additionally, you may be tempted to push back against the negative review by attacking the review’s character or point of view (i.e., pointing out that they had unreasonable expectations or changed their story constantly). Such a response may not only violate confidentiality codes between attorneys and clients, but those who read your response may view you as overly defensive, petty, or aggressive. Before you respond to the review, take some time to cool off and uncover the underlying motivation that prompted the client to write it in the first place. In most cases, people just want to feel heard and valued—understanding this motivation will go a long way toward resolving the issue.

Identify What the Reviewer Really Wants

When an unsatisfied client writes a negative review, they are usually looking for some sort of closure or validation. For example, if a former client complained about how long it took for your office to return their phone calls and emails, it’s possible that the client was craving reassurance during this stressful and uncertain time. It’s important to recognize that many clients hire attorneys during especially vulnerable times, and they are often struggling with strong and complex emotions. To that end, the review a client writes for you may have more to do with how the reviewer is feeling than the objective quality of your services. As you start to craft your response to a less-than-stellar review, take some time to put yourself in the position of the reviewer and think about the type of response you would most likely appreciate.

Invite the Reviewer to Discuss the Matter Offline

When approaching a negative review, it’s best to begin by inviting the reviewer to discuss their concerns offline. You can craft a short response that acknowledges their concerns and invites them to follow up with your law firm via phone or email. Not only does this response show the reviewer that you care about their experience and your firm’s desire to set things right with them, but it also shows those who visit the review site how invested your law firm is in preserving meaningful relationships with your clients by going the extra mile (even when you are no longer their attorney). Most people who write negative reviews simply want to feel heard and valued, and the reviewer may appreciate your willingness to discuss their concerns further. Once you have had a chance to talk to them on the phone, in person, or via email, the reviewer may decide to remove their negative comments. However, even if they leave the original review on the site, your careful and professional response will bolster your reputation and cultivate public trust in your firm’s ability to handle tricky situations with poise and grace.

Acknowledge Positive Reviews, Too

Many companies assume that positive reviews speak for themselves, meaning they only need to respond to negative reviews. However, taking the time to thank all your reviewers for the effort of leaving a comment is critical to improving the public perception of your law firm. You don’t have to craft lengthy responses; instead, simply acknowledging and appreciating a positive review shows how committed your law firm is to serving your clients and providing them with high-quality services. Potential clients who read these reviews will enjoy seeing your firm as an active participant and grateful appreciator of the work it takes to leave reviews. Remember, potential clients do not expect a law firm to have only glowing reviews; in fact, overly perfect reviews can come across as suspicious and fake. As long as you take the time to respond thoughtfully to the experiences and concerns of your clients, your law firm will continue to distinguish itself as trustworthy and client-centered.

If your law firm’s goal is to engage with more clients and grow your practice, talk to the LegalRev team today about how we can help. Call us at (800) 893-2590 or schedule a quick meeting here to discuss your vision and marketing goals. 

February 24, 2024