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A Surge in Online Review Lawsuits

Courts have been seeing a rise in the number of lawsuits by small business owners who are suing reviewers from the popular business website, Yelp. Many of these lawsuits are against reviewers who have made reckless claims about their services or products.

However, small business owners are not the only ones experiencing negative reviews, but lawyers also. As the Internet’s importance on marketing continues to grow, a review can determine whether the lawyer or law firm will gain or lose business.

For example, a Chicago employment attorney was reprimanded by a state attorney disciplinary board this past year for backlashing at a former client who spoke negatively about her online. The lawyer is said to have revealed confidential information regarding the client during the backlash.

On the other hand, rather than responding to negative comments online, many law firms are opting to go to court, and filing a lawsuit against those making false accusations. In March, a Georgia state appellate court affirmed a $405,000 verdict in favor of a divorce lawyer. She sued her former client for describing her as a “CROOK lawyer” and “Extremely Fraudulent Lady” on a local online business rating site.

According to two bar association in California, lawyers are not barred from responding to online reviews, but it may be inappropriate to provide such a response in an online forum, even if you don’t disclose confidential information. Lawyer-ranking site, Avvo, suggests to not get defensive, or feel the need to refute the comments written about you. It is more effective to think about what future reviewers might say about you, which will continue to boost you and your law firm’s reputation.
Overall online reviews have gained more credibility over the years as Internet use has spiked. The best thing a lawyer can do to try to combat a negative review is to learn from what the writer has written. Using these comments as constructive criticism can ultimately make you a better lawyer, and hopefully get positive reviews from your changes.

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