"Everything you've been told about building
an injury law practice is wrong"

How to Deal with Bad Online Reviews

Many lawyers fight critical opinions in the press and social media by taking defensive posture. When criticized for expressing a strong opinion on a controversial issue, most lawyers fight back and usually the bad press is magnified 10x. This is bad for everyone, especially you.

But would you even consider that, just possibly, you are wrong? In most cases, there is some element of truth to each side and if so, would it hurt to admit that you might be wrong at least on some issues? This non-lawyerly approach will minimize the hateful opinions and might get the hate-mongers to admit that your viewpoint is not entirely wrong.

Here’s a mea culpa that I wrote for an opinion that I expressed in a recent article of the Albany County Bar Newsletter.

“No Explanation Will Suffice”

In the May edition of the Albany County Bar Association’s newsletter, I wrote an article about the best tips for hiring a “superstar employee”. Among my tips was that you should never interview a state or government employee due to my perception of their lack of work ethic. I have come to realize this was not fair or accurate.

There are many state and government employees who are hard-working, motivated and committed to their work. And while there are some who do not fit this description, I used a stereotype that is not fair or accurate to many state workers (including my wife and her staff).

I cannot take back my harsh words, but I hope you will accept my apology for my short-sighted and ignorant opinion.

John Fisher
June 13, 2017

A Mea Culpa that Works

This public apology is succinct and does not attempt to qualify or condition my apology. Your acknowledgment of a mistake won’t defray all of the hateful responses, but some of your friends and followers will realize that we all make mistakes and they just might give you a second chance.

You might consider using this approach with negative online reviews.

“I am sorry to read that you had a bad experience with our firm. We’d like to speak with you to find out if there is anything we can do to fix this and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

This is far better than the usual lawyer response to a negative online review, i.e., “Everything you wrote is a lie—go to Hell!” Even when the person posting the negative online review is dead wrong, there is no point arguing with them—you will always lose.

Will this work? Not always, but your prospective clients will realize that your response to the negative online review was fair and reasonable and just maybe, the hate-monger is wrong.


photo credit: Skley Feedback via photopin (license)

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.