The Importance of Online Reputation Management for Legal Professionals
Reputation in itself is a high level concept that is difficult to measure. Similar to trust and other intangible concepts, it cannot be measured like income or expenses. As a legal professional, reputation and credibility are at the top of the list for desired attributes. Customers will always look for lawyers with a strong track record and positive reputation. With the pervasiveness of internet, information now is distributed across the online world and an online presence enables a lawyer to maintain and improve their online reputation.
Partners at big law firms and solo practicing lawyers may overlook the importance of having a digital presence, especially given their daily priorities. Legal professionals that do put time and effort into enhancing their reputation via online tools will be able to capture a bigger share of prospective clients. A strong online presence in the legal industry becomes a competitive advantage. Law firms and individual lawyers have a higher probability of appearing in negative headlines due to the nature of the industry. As such, online reputation management can be a great tool to keep the negative headlines at bay and highlight the positive ones.
“A lawyer cannot be competent absence a working knowledge of the benefits and risks associated with the use of social media.” — New York Bar Association social media guidelines for lawyers
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With a growing number of online communication platforms, managing your online reputation requires more effort, coordination and resources. Comparing to just 10 years ago, focusing on PR likely yields less results today than using online social platforms. As a result, lawyers must now develop new communication channels and forge online partnerships. Having a network of partners which include bloggers, journalists and industry associations can have a beneficial impact on the reputation of a company.
A lawyer’s reputation now doesn’t only depend on the results provided to customers, but also by reviews and feedback available online. With an increased chance of a negative review, it has become even more important for lawyers to address any negative feedback online. Ignoring a review can lead to other prospective clients believing the negative remarks and basing their opinion on that. There are online legal communities that provide a channel for both reading reviews, sharing feedback and providing commentary. In order to build an exceptional online presence, coordination of people and resources is critical. Large law firms and smaller boutique ones alike must learn how to communicate online effectively and be ready in advance of a crisis or reputational threat.