According to a recent article in the ABA Journal, “hard, honest work doesn’t count if professional accomplishments and accolades aren’t top results in a Google search of a lawyer’s name.” As it becomes easier for potential clients to search the Internet for a lawyer and/or law firm to represent their case, many would-be-clients base their decisions solely on the online reputations they discover during their search. And even though lawyers and/or law firms still receive plenty of traditional referral-based business, clients – both present and past – are the ones controlling the online conversation. Simply ignoring this online chatter can be a dangerous proposition for law firms.
In light of the popularity of youth-heavy social networking websites (Americans ages 18-29) and an excess of review-based websites, online reputation management techniques and technologies are critical for lawyers looking to ensure their good name, market their practice, gather competitive intelligence, and find evidence in litigation. According to the 2010 Legal Technology Survey Report: Web and Communication Technology volume, lawyer respondents have reported a noted increase in the use of the social web for professional networking (76%), client development (42%), and case investigation (6%).
Your ideal clients will type in the name of your firm and/or each individual attorney when they begin their search for a law firm to handle their legal problem. What will they find about you? One negative “hit” within your top search results (generally on the first page) can cost you thousands of dollars in lost business. And what’s worse, a bad review may encourage other frustrated clients to also leave a negative comment. As such, lawyers and law firms have no other option but to pay close attention to their online reputation and manage it effectively. Unlike other types of businesses, a lawyer’s individual name is extremely important, which means it is imperative that lawyers continuously maintain and improve the quality of online profiles, blogs, personal websites, and biographical content. Google, Bing and Yahoo can be your most effective sales tool; however, you need to take action and be in control of the search results for your name and present yourself in a positive light by highlighting accolades and credentials.
For a lawyer, negative online content may consist of:
- Bad Reviews / Complaints
- Outdated Information
- Misleading Information
On today’s social web, you must control the conversation about you. Your good name is online and on the line.