Following up on part one, in this post, rainmaking trainer and coach, Jaimie Field, discusses how to get more reviews (and since ethics is her thing, you know she’s advocating doing these in an ethical way!). Read on!

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(In part one of this series, the differences between recommendations, reviews, and testimonials were detailed. In part two we will discuss how to get more reviews, And part three will be how to deal with negative reviews.)

Recently, I have been offering a complimentary rainmaking training session to attorneys (please feel free to take me up on this offer if you are interested).  Prior to our conversations, I do a quick search of the attorney so I am aware of their practice areas and what their online footprint looks like.  And I have found that many of the attorneys with whom I have been speaking have lackluster amounts of information, particularly reviews, available to research. 
Some of these attorneys do have great testimonial pages on their websites. However, just having these accolades published isn’t always the best idea.  Many people know that these compliments are solicited and edited by the firm/attorney.  This means that only the best praises and tributes are posted.  Therefore reviews, posted on third-party websites, are seen as more credible.

For those who are into the analytical side, data shows that 86% of people read online reviews for local businesses.   And, more precisely for the legal industry, 65% of people who search for an attorney found the ratings to be important in their decision to hire a particular attorney.

Before we go into how to obtain more good reviews and recommendations, I just want to make sure you understand that you must be worthy of a good review.  This means providing exceptional client service to everyone with whom you work; always under-promise and over-deliver.

But, how do you obtain more reviews?

Prime the pump:
Priming the pump is an old cliché that is a reference to the old fashioned hand-cranked water pumps that people used to use to draw water from a well (see picture below – this one is actually for sale on Amazon). In order for it to suck up the water from the well, you had to continuously push the handle up and down for a short while until the mechanism could extract the water from the well – it was a lot of work.   Once the water began flowing it was easier to get the water into your bucket.

For our purposes, this means you have to start to prepare your clients from the moment they enter your offices until the case is finished that you are seeking a review from them.  By starting at the very beginning of the representation, you are doing the hard work of “priming the pump” so that when the matter is concluded, it is easier to ask for that review or recommendation.

You can provide this request in writing along with all of your other intake procedures, or for example, you can say:

“My practice survives and thrives on the recommendations and reviews of our clients.  If you are happy at the end of our representation, would you please write a review of my services?”

And you continue to remind them, in an offhand or friendly manner during your representation.

Ask:
You need to ask.  One of my favorite quotes is from author Nora Roberts:  “If you don’t ask, the answer is always ‘No’.”   Studies show that 7 out of ten people will post a review if they are asked.

Many attorneys are afraid to ask because they fear that maybe they don’t deserve the review or they are scared as to what the client may write.  However, if you have done your best and given all to that client, then you shouldn’t fear.  According to research, 35% of American customers post negative comments about companies on social media, but 53% post positive comments.

Make it easy for your clients:
When you are ready to request a review or recommendation, make it easy for your clients by providing them with the links to your third-party online review sites via email.  Whether you are asking your clients to post to Google, AVVO or Yelp, you should make it as easy as possible.

Follow Up
About three days after you have sent an initial request, follow up.  When you do, send them the links to the third party sites again. And keep asking until either they say they will not or they actually do post.

Ethical Consideration:
Before we end this discussion on how to obtain more reviews, I want to mention that you cannot offer incentives to your clients to get more reviews.  In many other businesses you can offer inducements, like gift cards or discounts, to entice clients to provide reviews.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to do so in the legal industry.  According to ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2 (b)*:

A lawyer shall not compensate, give or promise anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services . . .

Now, if you are going to come at me by asking isn’t there a clause in that rule which allows you to give nominal gifts of appreciations to clients? The answer is yes, there is that exception to the rule but it clearly states that it cannot be tied in any way to the encouragement of referrals or reviews (which is considered an online referral).

*Your state’s rule may vary.

Conclusion:

Good reviews and recommendations are imperative because even if you are referred, by word of mouth from a former (or current) client, people will immediately go the internet to search you directly.  And no reviews – or consistently bad reviews – can cost you potential clients.

Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.