This week in Things I Wish I Knew, attorney Joleena Louis, gets blindsided by a bad online review about her solo law practice, and takes steps to recover.
My heart sank as I read it. I could not believe it was real. And I could not believe this particular person wrote it.
It was a bad online review from a client, and my feelings were hurt.
I take great pride in providing the best service possible. In family law you really get to know the intimate details of your clients’ life and genuinely take an interest in the outcome of their matter (at least I do).
This was particularly confusing to me because this client never complained to me directly and I did not know they were unhappy with my representation.
This client didn’t get the outcome they wanted. This was something they knew was a possibility because I make every effort to warn clients about possible outcomes, as I did with this one.
Not only was this a bad review, it was the only review about my practice on this particular site. I had to act fast to rectify the situation.My heart sank as I read a bad review left by a client #WoesOfASoloAttorney Click To Tweet
I Reached Out to the Client
Once I got over my surprise and hurt feelings, I reached out to the client. I apologized, and though I disagreed with the points he made in his review, I let him know I was sorry he felt that way.
I Looked for Ways to Improve
Next, I reread his comments to look for ways to improve. I realized I needed to figure out a way to get ongoing client feedback. This way, if a client feels there is something I need to be doing better, I can address it right away.
I cannot rely on them to tell me without prompting. I also think I need to do a better job of managing expectations about outcomes.
I Asked Happy Clients to Write Reviews
I have never asked clients to write reviews. Most of my clients are happy and send me referrals.
I reached out to former happy clients to write reviews and am working on a system to make it easy for clients to leave reviews at the end of their cases.
I Wasn’t Too Hard on Myself
Once I calmed down I realized that no matter how hard I try, not everyone is going to be happy. All I can do is continue to give the best service possible and learn from my mistakes.
Joleena’s experience is not unique among small firm practitioners and her suggested action steps are helpful if general. A former client systematically went after me via online attorney reviews that were unfair and potentially damaging. It took us years and a variety of strategies to contain and reverse what he did. In a competitove legal market, ignoring the problem is not an option.
Thanks for your comment. It seems that solos in practice areas that are highly emotionally charged, like matrimonial, need to have a plan in place to deal with negative reviews when the outcome is not what the client hoped for (whether reasonable or not). It’s inevitable the you’ll get them. What do you think?
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