The Do’s and Don’ts of Responding to a Negative Review of Your Law Firm

What happens when an unsatisfied client leaves a negative review of your law firm? Crafting a thoughtful response that acknowledges their experience and invites them to talk with you privately is usually the most effective approach.

As an attorney, you likely recognize the importance of client reviews. Those looking for legal services in your area consider online reviews equivalent to a personal recommendation from a trusted friend or family member. Whether you have been steadily amassing online reviews from clients over the past few years or just getting started, there’s no denying that requesting and responding to client reviews is a critical aspect of your law firm’s digital marketing strategy. While online reviews play a key role in influencing public perceptions of your law practice, search engine algorithms use online reviews to evaluate a law firm’s authority and trustworthiness, which impacts your website’s position on the search results pages. However, what happens when an unsatisfied client leaves a negative review? Below are a few strategies for coping with and responding to a negative review of your law firm in the best and most effective way.

Do: Take Time to Assess and Absorb the Review

As soon as you read a negative review a client has posted about you or your law firm, it’s natural to want to fire off an angry response. However, writing and posting a hasty response often backfires as you let your impulsivity take the reins. First, take some time to read the review in its entirety. Is it genuinely negative, or does it point out a few areas for improvement? Remember that Google (and potential clients) do not expect law firms to have a perfect five-star rating—in fact, overly glowing reviews can seem too fake or suspicious. If the review is not inaccurate or overtly aggressive, consider responding by acknowledging their feedback and expressing your ongoing commitment to improving the client experience. However you eventually choose to handle this review, it’s always worth taking some time to read, understand, and reflect before you respond.

Don’t: Overexplain Yourself

When you receive a less-than-stellar review from a former client, you may feel compelled to write a detailed response to explain the larger picture. However, as an attorney, you are responsible for maintaining your clients’ privacy and safeguarding sensitive information. Rather than launching into a long-winded response, keep your words short, sweet, and to the point. Overexplaining usually ends up making you look desperate, defensive, or even combative. Not only will the client who wrote the review feel attacked, but those reading your reviews may form a negative impression of you based on this response. Instead, respond by acknowledging their dissatisfaction, inviting them to continue the conversation offline, and highlighting your ongoing mission to provide excellent service to every client.

Do: Invite the Client to Resolve the Issue Offline

Public review sites are not the ideal place to engage in a meaningful conversation with a former client who has expressed dissatisfaction with your services. Most people who post negative reviews simply want to feel heard, so extending the invitation to make time to connect with them one-on-one can go a long way in resolving the issue. Inviting them to discuss their concerns with you via phone call, email, or in person shows that you are taking their feelings seriously and that you are invested in their wellbeing. Even if this individual does not take you up on this offer to continue the conversation offline, those who view your response to the negative review will see that you have taken the time to engage with this individual, and they will appreciate your effort. You may want to craft a response that acknowledges their experience, invites them to converse with you further about their specific concerns, and reiterates your commitment to using client feedback to improve your services.

Don’t: Forget to Monitor Your Review Sites Regularly

As an attorney in solo practice or running a small law firm, you have a lot on your plate. Regularly checking your online reviews can fall by the wayside as you focus your attention on more pressing matters. However, if you do not check and respond to client reviews with regularity, unacknowledged reviews can start to accumulate and present you as uninterested in the client experience. A prompt review always works in your favor, as potential clients will see you as responsive and invested in client satisfaction. Fortunately, there are several reputation management tools you can use to automatically alert you when a new review is posted, saving you the time and hassle of manually monitoring your review sites.

Do: Respond to Positive Reviews, Too

While your response to negative reviews is critical to address the client’s concerns and show site visitors that you are committed to delivering excellent service, responding to positive reviews can boost your reputation. Potential clients who visit your review site will see that you are actively monitoring and engaging with your client’s feedback. Even a simple “Thank you!” can shape public perception of your law practice, as you’ll come across as genuine, approachable, and responsive to your clients’ needs.


If you are looking for ways to energize your law firm’s digital marketing strategy, call LegalRev today at (800) 893-2590.

October 3, 2022