Can I Trust the Reviews I Read on Lawyers?
In the world we all live in, we live and die by the internet — no doubt. When we need to buy things, where do we turn? Inevitably, the internet. Be it Amazon, Walmart, or Google, we are turning to things we see online for answers. The days of shopping in person are slowing dying like tape cassettes, CD’s, and telephones with chords.
Part and parcel to this consumer process, often we are looking for reviews of products, services, and/or contractors/professionals we look to employ or purchase. Often times you’ll see contractors with only a few reviews, but then, oddly, you’ll see reviews of professionals or products that total in the hundreds or thousands. If you are like most Americans, you’ll spend more time scouring the reviews than the food on the restaurant menu or the proof of work provided by a contractor. The legal profession is slowing catching up to this trend as newer, younger, and more technologically savvy lawyers look for online exposure.
As more and more attorneys turn to Google, FindLaw, SuperLawyers, and Avvo you’ll find hundreds of firms with an equal number of reviews. Some firms will have a few reviews while others have hundreds or more. The reason for the delay in many lawyers getting onboard with reviews was they were waiting on the Supreme Court of Indiana to chime in on what was or was not permissible under the ethical guidelines. As the years have transpired, it has become clear that the Supreme Court is allowing them, so long as they conform to the rules of professional responsibility.
So what is allowed and what isn’t?
First and foremost, genuine reviews are required and people that have used the firm or have relatives that would have been aware of the services the firm provides. Having family/friends of the firm leave reviews is often frowned upon as it can give a false pretense for the quality of work the firm might provide.
Secondly, agencies are starting to crack down on fake reviews. Google is as well. Sadly, there are companies in Indiana (both legal and non-legal) that may be employing outside agencies to generate non-legitimate reviews of the their business to bolster their number of reviews. Disappointingly, some of the reviews are of people that may have never even used the business. If a law firm uses these measures, they could actually get in trouble for this type of behavior, and the disciplinary commission might take a firm stance on this moving forward. WTHR actually just did an expose on this.
The best thing to do is to look at the reviewer. See if the review actually mentions lawyers by name or the work they did. If it is generic with no mention of the service or lawyer, chances are it is a paid for review (or might be). Also look to see the profile picture of the reviewer. Stock photos or professionally enhanced photos are a red flag. Finally, people who have only done one or two reviews which read the same across different companies, that can also be a paid for review. If you have a suspicion that a review may be fake, you can always report is as fraud to Google or turn it into the the appropriate agency.
Thirdly, firms shouldn’t be incentivizing reviews in exchange for something quid pro quo. They should be rightfully earned, not bought.
Fourthly, as a tip, many legal cases are available for public viewing on mycase.in.gov. Many times you can cross reference whether a case or review is legitimate by cross referencing the reviewer’s name with a public record search. If they can’t be found, that could be a red flag, but not always.
Lastly, look for firms that have been open over time and with reviews spread out evenly over the years. If you see huge batches of reviews in a short period of time (a week/month), that’s a red flag that an outside review generator firm may be soliciting fake reviews or paid for reviews (but not always). That could be a sign that things are amiss and not legitimate.
In conclusion, double check everyone before you hire someone. Unfortunately, businesses will take advantage of using review generating firms whose primary purpose is it generate fake or unethical reviews. When in doubt, call the firm and ask. You’ll be able to tell.
The law firm at Banks & Brower is proud that every review we have is from a legitimate client or family member. While we have received random reviews from people who were never clients, we often reach out to figure out who they are and why they left a review. We also want to ensure our reviews represent a direct reflection of our clients and our service. We will never take the easy path to inflated reviews. Honesty and integrity are what we are built on, and that will always be the case.
Should you or a loved one need help with a criminal, personal injury, or family law matter, give our experienced attorneys at Banks & Brower a call or email today at 317.870.0019 or firstname.lastname@example.org, 24/7/365.