Negative Client Reviews: What to Do and How to Fix Them - Legal Brand Marketing
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Negative Client Reviews: What to Do and How to Fix Them

In the competitive world of legal services, managing negative reviews can significantly impact a firm’s reputation and its ability to attract new clients. Negative reviews, while disheartening, offer an opportunity for law firms to demonstrate their commitment to client satisfaction and continuous improvement. Here’s a guide on how to effectively handle negative client reviews, turn potential setbacks into opportunities for growth, and ultimately enhance your firm’s reputation.

1. Monitor Your Online Presence

The first step in managing negative reviews is to be aware of them. Law firms should actively monitor their online presence, including social media platforms, legal review sites like Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, and general platforms such as Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Setting up alerts for your firm’s name and attorneys can help you stay on top of what’s being said about your services in real time.

According to the “MTMP Connect 2024 – The Art of Creating Your Own Brand: A Practical Guide for Attorneys”, a good practice for your business is to proactively search for your business’ name on Google. You may find reviews or conversations about your business that you otherwise would have missed had you not searched for them. This practice is highly recommended to legal professionals in order to maintain control of the discourse around your firm.

2. Respond Promptly and Professionally

When a negative review appears, it’s crucial to respond swiftly and professionally. A timely response shows that your firm values feedback and is proactive about addressing client concerns. Your response should:

  1. Acknowledge the reviewer’s concerns, but be careful not to outwardly admit fault. In most cases, dissatisfied clients are often operating under a false assumption about your business or the services it provides. To protect your business’ outward reputation, be selective about the words that you use; avoid “we made a mistake”, “that was an error”, and so on.
  2. Express your commitment to high standards of service. If you have been diligent about both encouraging and addressing feedback from your customers, then a negative review may be flanked by dozens of positive ones. Use those testimonials as evidence of your commitment to service.
  3. Offer to resolve the issue offline by providing contact information to discuss the matter privately. While this is an efficient way to ensure that both parties are able to communicate with one another clearly, it also demonstrates a willingness to tackle negative feedback head-on, which will signal to any potential clients that your business is run with integrity.

Avoid using legal jargon or appearing defensive, as this can further alienate the reviewer and potential clients. A timely response to a client’s review, both positive and negative, will demonstrate to potential clients who are discovering your business that you are attentive to feedback, that you have the initiative to address concerns and that you truly care about each of your clients.

3. Take the Conversation Offline

Moving the conversation offline is essential. Direct communication with the client can help you understand their concerns better and resolve issues more effectively. This approach also minimizes public back-and-forth, which can be damaging to your firm’s image.

A dissatisfied client may not realize the lasting damage that they might be doing to your business by leaving a negative review based on falsehoods or a simple misunderstanding, since those reviews are often extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove. The sooner that you can engage directly with a disgruntled client and inspire them to change their review, the better the situation will be for your business’ reputation.

4. Learn from the Feedback

Every review is a learning opportunity. Analyze the feedback to identify any recurring themes or valid criticisms about your services. This insight can help you improve client interactions, service delivery, and internal processes. Adjustments don’t need to be monumental; even small changes can significantly enhance client satisfaction and reduce future negative reviews.

Remember, while it’s important not to openly admit fault when responding to these user reviews, it is important to recognize when to hold yourself accountable for your shortcomings. Managing negative reviews is a skill in and of itself. There are no perfectly operated businesses, only businesses that are willing to improve and businesses that aren’t.

5. Request Reviews Proactively

Encouraging satisfied clients to share their positive experiences can help counterbalance the impact of negative reviews. Make it easy for clients to leave reviews by sending follow-up emails with links to your profiles on various review platforms. This not only boosts your overall rating but also reflects a more accurate representation of your firm’s services.

People are not often driven to action based on positive experiences. The truth is the opposite. Hundreds of customers may visit a restaurant in one night. A majority of those customers may have been perfectly pleased with their meals, but a single dissatisfied visitor may be the only person inspired to write a review about the restaurant. In order to inspire a happy customer to take time out of their busy day to relay their experience with your businesses to other potential customers, you have to be proactive in asking for those reviews.

What You’ve Learned

Negative client reviews can be challenging, but with the right approach, they can be managed effectively to improve your law firm’s service and reputation. By responding thoughtfully, taking actionable steps based on feedback, and maintaining a proactive stance on client satisfaction, your firm can turn negative reviews into powerful tools for growth and client loyalty.

Remember that a negative review is not a problem, it is an opportunity.

For more insights and support in managing your online reputation, visit, where we specialize in helping law firms achieve their marketing and client relations goals.