Reputation Management for Attorneys: Safeguarding Your Elder Law Legal Practice’s Image
Reputation can take months or even years to build and can be destroyed in a matter of seconds by just one client, testimonial, or even employee. Managing your elder law legal practice’s reputation is vital in safeguarding your image. Every firm has a reputation to uphold, whether it’s establishing credibility, honing a competitive edge, attracting clients and nurturing their trust, or simply maintaining ethical standards, a positive reputation management for attorneys and their firm is vital for continuous success. Big firms also reap immensely from a strong reputation as it helps attract skilled and experienced attorneys.
With many potential clients finding a trusted firm through online platforms, like social media accounts, review sites, and business listings, a consistent reputation management strategy will assist in anticipating or preventing risks and building a positive online presence.
Elder law legal practice, especially, is a delicate area. Older persons rely on elder law attorneys to help them with issues not limited to health and long-term care planning, fiduciary representation, estate planning, public benefits, and senior counseling. As such, an elder law legal firm must distinguish itself as credible, trustworthy, and capable of helping older persons and their families navigate retirement.
Understanding Reputation Management for Attorneys
Reputation management refers to strategies brands and organizations employ to influence perceptions and conversations about them. It should be a continuous process where you proactively take steps to improve your reputation while monitoring and responding to any threats.
As mentioned, a positive online reputation helps build trust and credibility, attract new clients, and give your firm a competitive edge. A solid reputation management strategy comes in handy, especially when facing challenges such as negative reviews or crises (regulatory investigation, cybercrime, or accusations of ethical misconduct).
The Power of a Positive Online Presence
Building a solid online presence is an excellent reputation management strategy for attorneys. It helps you build trust and credibility, enhances visibility and awareness, and boosts engagement. There are numerous ways of building a positive online presence, such as:
- Creating a professional and optimized website: A professional and responsive website with a user-friendly design and navigation, plus consistent branding and messaging, enhances credibility and boosts user engagement.
- Crafting a compelling attorney bio: This allows you to showcase your qualifications, certifications, and career milestones to demonstrate your experience.
- Publishing case studies and client testimonials: Provides social proof while showcasing your expertise.
Navigating Online Review Platforms
A BrightLocal survey revealed that 98% of customers read and write online reviews for local businesses. The trend cuts across all industries, including legal firms. Reviews on your Google Business Profile, social media accounts, or review sites such as Avvo, Lawyers.com, and Martindale-Hubbell can significantly influence client perception about your firm.
Online reviews provide social proof, establish trust, increase brand reach, and nurture improved engagement. You can generate positive reviews by delivering exceptional client experiences, addressing client concerns promptly, and encouraging happy clients to leave reviews.
However, ABA has strict ethics rules to follow when soliciting client reviews. Your requests must be non-specific, and you should not offer incentives such as gifts in exchange for reviews. ABA also has laid out best practices law firms must follow when responding to negative reviews. As a best practice, you should refrain from responding publicly to negative reviews, as it draws more attention. But you can contact the client privately or request the site hosting the post to remove it. If you must respond publicly, it should be an invitation to the client to contact you or informing them that professional regulations prohibit you from giving an online response.
Harnessing the Power of Social Media
Social media is another powerful reputation management tool for attorneys. It helps with raising brand awareness, building trust, and enhancing client service and engagement. You can grow a strong online social media community for enhanced brand presence and credibility.
As McKinsey advises, you should develop a strategy defining the platforms where you plan to engage clients. While law firms have a presence in most social channels – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat – you should choose those on which your target audience (older persons and their families) will likely be active.
One of the reputation management strategies you can employ is creating valuable content to engage the audience, such as sharing legal insights and highlighting community involvement. You can also request clients to leave reviews and manage the interactions by responding to feedback promptly and monitoring the channels for mentions.
Proactive Crisis Management
You should manage your reputation through proactive crisis management. This requires having sound risk management (identifying potential risks), creating a crisis management plan and having a team (internal or external) overseeing the same. The team should conduct continuous monitoring and review the plan regularly.
You should also develop a crisis communication plan and a policy for addressing negative press and rumors.
Monitoring and Analytics
Finally, you should conduct ongoing reputation monitoring and analysis. Among other benefits, continuous monitoring demonstrates your credibility and provides you with valuable data to make informed adjustments and enhance the client experience.
You can set up Google Alerts to keep you abreast with brand mentions. In addition, there are online mentions tracking tools such as BrandMentions, SocialMention, and Buzzsumo.
Reputation management is vital in safeguarding your elder law legal practice. You should manage your reputation continuously to maintain your credibility and competitive edge. Some of the proven strategies you can employ include building a positive online presence, monitoring online review platforms, harnessing the power of social media, conducting proactive crisis management, and continuous monitoring.
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