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Law Practice Magazine

The Marketing Issue

The Reviews Are In

Gyi E Tsakalakis


  • Your next clients will expect to find online reviews and recommendations of your services.
  • Your Google Business Profile (GBP) is one of the most common places they'll look.
  • Deliver remarkable client service and develop systems to encourage more positive reviews.
The Reviews Are In

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Why Reviews

A long time ago (~2007), I was a baby lawyer. As baby lawyers are, I was extremely curious about how lawyers got clients. So, I asked around. As you might guess, most lawyers told me some version of, “word of mouth.” Not terribly surprising. But I’d also ask about “the internet.” To which most lawyers answered some version of, “people won’t use the internet to find lawyers like me.” This didn’t make sense to me. After all, I had been using Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) since high school, and Facebook and LinkedIn were already on the scene.

Further, a year prior, Mark Briton had founded Avvo, the original online marketplace for legal services. Surely, people would use these tools to spread “word of mouth.”

In fact, at least in part, it was my incredulity about lawyers’ opinions about the internet that inspired me to found my company and eventually leave law practice altogether. But it wasn’t until Rich Barton’s Avocating Keynote in 2012 that the inevitability of online lawyer ratings and reviews really became clear to me.

"If it can be known, it will be known" and "If it can be rated, it will be rated."

Today, it seems comical to believe that online reviews don’t matter. According to the Thomson Reuters 2018 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey, 68 percent of consumers listed “reviews from former clients” as a top criterion when evaluating an attorney. In 2019, Clio’s Legal Trends Report found that younger generations are more likely to care about a firm’s online reviews (46 percent of Gen Z and 53 percent of Millennials compared to 39 percent of Gen X and 25 percent of Boomers).

Your next clients will expect to find online reviews and recommendations of your services.

Where to Get Reviews

In my experience, lawyers should prioritize getting online reviews and focus on where their clients are looking for them. For most lawyers, that means Google, and more specifically, Google Business Profiles (GBP).

No matter how someone gets your name, they’re likely to look for more information about you. For most lawyers, many of those searches will take place on Google. Fortunately, Google provides lawyers with GBP, a free tool to list business information and direct clients to for reviews.

Further, GBP listings power Google’s map, local pack, local services ads and local finder. Put simply, when someone performs an “unbranded lawyer search” relevant to your practice, GBP is the place to start.

Once you’ve earned a competitive number of reviews on your GBP, start directing people to other review sites that appear prominently for searches on your name.

First, enter your name and firm name into Google. Next, identify which sites that appear allow reviews. Create a spreadsheet to organize these profiles. You should also keep a running list of the number of reviews and sentiments (e.g., star rating) for each of these sites. Finally, start sending people to these sites based on the site’s visibility, number of reviews and sentiment.

Authoritative review sites tend to have the most visibility. Here are some typical examples we see:

  • Facebook Business Pages
  • Yelp
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Avvo

Results for searches on your name may vary. Be particularly alert for sites that show aggregate ratings in search results (i.e., stars with rating sentiment and count). These tend to attract more user attention.

Once you’ve earned a competitive number of reviews across branded search results, expand your review site prospecting to include relevant non-brand queries (i.e., city plus practice area plus lawyer). These sites can help you earn potential clients for non-brand queries from the site itself and improve your visibility in local packs. According to Google, more reviews and positive ratings can improve your firm’s local ranking.

How to Get Positive Reviews

The first step to earning positive reviews is delivering remarkable experiences to people. Who are all the people who might review your firm and why?

At first, you’ll likely list “happy clients.” So, it behooves you to improve client service experiences. Poor client experience is the number one reason firms receive negative reviews. Create systems and processes that maximize effective communication. These should include steps such as: keep clients informed about the status of their matter; set clear expectations about what comes next in the process; providing timely responses to client inquiries; making things easy for clients to understand; and, communicating empathically and compassionately.

Depending on your practice area and client base, your happiest clients may not be willing to leave you an online review. Fortunately, Google’s contributed content policy allows for all contributions reflecting any genuine experience at a place or business.

In my experience, this includes potential clients who have contacted your firm reviewing their experience; people who have watched you speak in a professional context; people who have downloaded resources from your firm (e.g., guides); or other professionals who have experienced knowledge, skill or expertise in other contexts.

Many times, people won’t know what to say. It’s usually helpful to give them examples or make suggestions. Remember to remind them that they ought not to say anything specific about their situation. In fact, a review that simply says, “They were there for me in a very difficult time,” can be very powerful in terms of social proof for your next potential client.

However, be careful. Not all review platforms have the same review guidelines. Some require that reviewers be actual clients. I would also discourage you from quid pro quo reviews in any capacity, including mutual agreements to review friends and colleagues.

I encourage you to read the complete review guidelines before engaging in behavior that is prohibited by the platform. You should check with your state bar to avoid any ethical missteps relating to encouraging reviews. Some states have extremely restrictive rules about how lawyers can permissibly earn reviews.

I also recommend that, where appropriate, you get written consent for using the review. This is particularly important if you plan to use reviews elsewhere online (your website, social media, etc.). For video testimonials, you’re probably safe recording a quick consent at the beginning of the video, editing it out for publishing and retaining the version with consent for your records.


When and how you ask for reviews matters a lot. You may have heard of Foonberg’s Gratitude Curve in the context of getting paid.

Foonberg’s Gratitude Curve is also applicable when considering when to ask someone for a review. You probably have clients that think you’re a legend, or at least think extremely highly of you at some point during your relationship. In fact, they may even say something like, “If there’s anything I can ever do to help you, please let me know.” That’s a great time to suggest that they leave you a review.


The most common reason people don’t leave reviews is because they weren’t asked. You should implement systems and processes to ensure that everyone that has an experience with your firm has a means of providing feedback about their experience. Let them know that you want their feedback and give them frictionless opportunities to give it.

You might also consider incentivizing your team to capture more positive feedback and reviews. I know firms that tie compensation to their team members’ ability to earn positive reviews. Developing a culture of remarkable client experience and feedback is essential to earning positive online reviews.