Guest Post by Sabrina Clark

In these ecommerce-dominated times, you can buy almost anything, or hire almost anyone, over the internet. So what makes lawyers different?

Apparently, not as much as you might think.

Clients Are Using The Internet To Find Attorneys

We know that most companies are checking the online brands of job applicants before getting too deep in the hiring process. In fact, about 80 percent of recruiters are checking in on online reputations before hiring already.

A poll conducted for Moses & Rooth, a Florida criminal law firm, showed that overall, 9.4 percent of those questioned used the internet to choose an attorney. While the percentages of clients using the internet to find lawyers doesn’t appear to be that high, it is the second most popular way.

That may not sound like much, compared to numbers generated by Human Resources staff, but it is significant when you consider that the only more popular method was “A Friend,” at 13.6 percent.

In other surveys, the internet has overtaken a friend’s suggestion already, and is getting larger.

The same review noted that using the internet was the favorite way to find a lawyer among the youngest adults, ages 18 to 24, and among clients making more than $150,000 a year.

Those in that younger group will soon be replaced by others who are at least as tech-savvy, growing that demographic, and those top earners have the ability to hire the attorney of their choice.

You want it to be you.

What To Do About Your Online Reputation, Your Brand

Get a strong online presence, one that will get you noticed, in a positive way. For help, go to an online reputation  management specialist. The people there will help you do the following and more:

Establish your profile on several online attorney review sites

Software Advice listed the top 4 most popular and trusted review sites, in descending order, as 1) Yelp, 2) Super Lawyers, 3) Martindale-Hubbell, and 4) Avvo. Your local bar association site, LinkedIn, and other social media sites should be used, also.

Accentuate the positive

Review the online sources where you have a profile, and the ones you didn’t know you had a profile, and link the positive reviews to your website and to each other profile. After a successful client experience, ask for a positive review and tell them where to post it. Have a questionnaire, paper or online, ready for a happy client to fill out. You’d be surprised how well this works.

Eliminate the negative

Or at least minimize it. Any online seller, from corporations to the casual user, will tell you that feedback is king. Maintain as close as possible to 100 percent positive reviews, and you will be more likely to be trusted, and your products purchased, than someone with a substantially lower satisfaction rating.

Negative reviews should not be argued in the public forum. This will make it appear to others that there is a basis for a bad review. Respond with compassion and offer another consultation, if there are resolvable issues. Once resolved, ask for a positive review.

Provide good service

Listen, be responsive, stay current in your specialty, make clients aware of what level of service to expect. Under-promise, and over-produce.

Socialize

Consulting a friend to find a lawyer has a long history as the most popular and trusted way to find one. It is declining, but still significant. Meet people, talk with them, make an impression. Social media is a phenomenon of our times. Use it, too.

Balance Professional And Social

Lastly, everyone is entitled to have a personal life outside of their job, as consuming as the legal profession is. You are no exception.

If you are active on social media, maintain your privacy settings consistent with what you want the public to see. Social media sites are prone to make updates to privacy policies that may affect your settings, so check them often.

If you are not active on social media, consider jumping in. Your competition is.

Be discreet with what you post. Avoid photos, topics, and grammar you would rather your clients not see.

Yes, grammar. Surveys show that grammar and punctuation are hot-buttons for HR people looking to hire. Your prospective client just might feel the same way.

Your reputation is key to building your practice. The internet is a great tool for promoting yours, but needs to be maintained properly.

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Sabrina Clark is a proud Marist College alum with degrees specializing in public relations, business administration and Spanish. While at Marist, she co-founded the Marist Student Entrepreneur Network to support students with entrepreneurial aspirations. Upon graduation, she accepted a marketing position with a tech startup focused on the home improvement industry where she managed integrated marketing, sales and strategic partnership initiatives. She is excited to now be a part of the BrandYourself team as their Director of Marketing and help sculpt the future of the online reputation management industry.