Five Ways Online Reviews Help Clients and Solicitors

Photo of Daniel Fitzsimmons, a Chartered Legal Executive, who discusses online reviews

Many in the legal profession have been slow to adopt online reviews. Daniel Fitzsimmons explains why Donoghue Solicitors embraces them.

By Daniel Fitzsimmons, Chartered Legal Executive

It’s a fact. People leave and read online reviews of law firms. A recent report from a company in the USA found that 81% of consumers look at lawyers’ reviews and think they are important. (The numbers are even higher for other products or services.)

My firm has been listed on many online customer review sites for years. You can read genuine reviews of Donoghue solicitors on:

·       Google

·       Facebook

·       Freeindex

·       the reviews page of our website.

As a law firm based in Liverpool which represents clients throughout England and Wales, we’re happy to be found through internet search engines, review platforms, social media etc. to engage with reviewers.

We have found that the internet is a valuable way potential clients from all over can learn more about us and how we treat people.

Online Reviews Trial

The legal profession has slowly woken up to the reality that online reviews are being left and read.

Recently the SRA, Council for Licensed Conveyancers and CILEx Regulation began a pilot scheme working with comparison sites and about 70 law firms who volunteered to be part of the experiment.

The trial:

“aims to increase the amount of easily accessible, comparable information on the quality of legal services providers which is available to the public.”

It is ongoing and the results are unknown. Despite this, another legal standards regulator, the Legal Services Board, is considering forcing law firms to sign up for review websites.

The Law Society Gazette reports that a paper in support of the possible requirement says:

“action is needed to ‘catalyse’ change in the legal market.”

Some commenters on the Gazette article make clear their disgust at being forced to sign up:

Anonymous Commented on:9 June 2021 4:23am

This really hits the bottom of regulatory stupidity. After which we know that they will start to dig.

Anonymous Commented on:8 June 2021 9:40am

Out of curiosity, is there any other trade, profession or occupation in the UK for which a listing on a comparison website is mandatory?

I suspect that Joe Public’s ‘problem’ with solicitors is that solicitors are very rarely needed in most people’s lives, so when they do need one they haven’t a clue where to go. And what we do is technical, dull stuff which most people don’t understand except in terms of the outcome (claim won, house bought … but none of the palaver to get to the outcome).

Anonymous Commented on:8 June 2021 8:31am

If this comes to pass, we will in due course inform the LSB that we have no intention whatsoever of pandering to such an absurd diktat.

The LSB (and its “subsidiaries”) has lost all touch with reality and appears to exist entirely for its own benefit.

While I agree with the view that solicitors’ firms should not be forced into any form of marketing, let alone one which is so time and money hungry as online review management, internet-based reviews have their place.

Here are five reasons why they help solicitors and clients alike:

1. Reviews let us know how we are doing

Clients are free to leave reviews on many websites, including those I listed earlier, at any time. All it takes is a few taps or clicks.

We encourage reviews because they give us valuable information about how we are performing as a firm and individually.

If our client’s leave positive reviews and go away from the case satisfied, then we can be too. We use the positive things we learned to help others.

Equally, negative comments and fewer-than-five-star reviews can help us improve.

2. Online reviews help reassure potential clients if they instruct us

One reason we’re so keen on online reviews at Donoghue Solicitors is that we use them too.

I often read reviews and star ratings on sites like:

  • Tripadvisor, before booking holidays
  • Amazon, when buying electronics
  • Google, when booking restaurants.

Our clients do the same when researching law firms. For most people, instructing a solicitor is an unusual event. Getting reassurance from others about a firm and its lawyers can help put their minds at rest.

This form of “social proof” helps generate both local business and clients from further afield.

I often talk to new clients who tell me they got in touch because of our online reviews. I’m glad my clients read the reviews, because it helps them get a sense of the firm and its people, and what kind of customer experience they can expect.

3. Reviews show the limits of what we can do and who we can help

Like all businesses, we get the occasional negative review. More often than not, these are from people who asked us to represent them, but we could not help. Often this is because of resources, merits, or other reasons which you can read about in my colleague Kevin Donoghue’s blog post: Why won’t a solicitor take my no win no fee claim?

We respond to bad reviews by explaining the situation. This is for:

  1. the benefit of the person leaving the review, and
  2. others who may be thinking about using our firm.

By responding to negative reviews fully we hope to:

  1. reassure the person who left the negative review that we were genuine in our reasons, and
  2. save others the time and effort of contacting us if our firm is not suitable for their needs. (There are plenty of other lawyers out there who might be able to help. We recommend the Law Society’s free Find a Solicitor service.)

4. Reviews help us fulfil our regulatory burdens

Despite our enthusiasm for internet marketing, Donoghue Solicitors is not required to have an online presence.

One reason is because we are not bound by the SRA’s transparency rules.

The SRA is promoting transparency rules on service and pricing for conveyancers and employment lawyers, among others. It expects firms which offer those services to publish details online (if they have websites).

The regulator has not yet forced such rules on compensation claims lawyers like me and my colleagues. But I expect it’s only a matter of time, and getting online reviews now helps us prepare.

5. Internet reviews inspire us to keep going in the hard times

Like all jobs, there are good and bad days in the law. Getting a positive online review when things are tough can be the tonic we need.

Recently one of my clients left this review on Google, for which I’m truly grateful:

Matthew Kirtley

 23 hours ago

My tremendous thanks to Daniel Fitzsimmons and the Donoghue Solicitors team for their work on my claim. Along with being friendly, Daniel’s expertise really has shone through. Daniel was able to break down my story and clearly lay out what I should be looking to claim for, and then proceeded to set out a clear plan of action for gathering evidence and preparing my claim. Throughout my time as a client Daniel kept me clearly informed as to the status of my claim and the path going forward. When it came to dealing with my opponent, Daniel was an excellent negotiator. Daniel pushed firmly on my behalf, clearly anticipating my opponent’s responses and seeing through their attempts to deflect and undermine my claim. As a result, Daniel secured an excellent settlement from my opponent. He negotiated a much larger compensation package than anticipated through his persistence, and also obtained a written apology and several other important concessions. A fantastic outcome. Daniel genuinely believed in the merits of my case and was clearly motivated by a desire to secure justice. He’s a friendly, principled, and extremely capable solicitor and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him. He and the team at Donoghue Solicitors have been exceptional, and represent the best side of the legal profession.

Positive Impact of Online Reviews

I understand the legal profession’s reluctance to embrace online reviews. No one like to be criticized, and there are real problems with fake reviews, review site manipulation of rankings, and other questionable practices.

On the whole though, the positives outweigh the negatives, for both clients and lawyers alike.

Daniel Fitzsimmons is a Chartered Legal Executive at Donoghue Solicitors. Contact him here.