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Beware the Online Review

Posted on in Divorce

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In this day and age, it is unlikely that a potential client is going to pull out the phone book when starting to contact divorce lawyers. In fact, in this day and age, who keeps a phone book around anyway? I know my recycling bin gets a new friend the same day that bundle arrives on my doorstep.

So you need a divorce lawyer - I assume you have followed advice we've given in the past and you first ask close friends and family. Or, if your situation is private (and a lot of family law situations are!) you may not feel comfortable asking those you know. Instead, you go online, and you head to your favorite search engine. You google it! Once you've compiled a list of names, you should visit the websites of each attorney. Websites will put a face to a name and give you more information about who you might be contacting. Some potential clients go further and look the attorney up on google plus, bing, yelp, avvo the list goes on. Why? Well, to check out online reviews. Here's where it gets sticky.

We pride ourselves on service, individualized attention, and absolute, detailed knowledge of the current law on all relevant issues. When their cases are complete, our clients are pleased with our representation. Our former clients are our biggest source of new clients - and that's the way it should be. They talk about our firm, and refer their friends and family to our firm. So when I got an email from avvo.com (an attorney profile website/engine) indicating we had a BAD review, I was shocked; immediately I went to the website, and checked it out. Our reviews to date have been good - all of them - on every website. So I took this bad review personally - and I believe this is the correct reaction. This is, after all, my firm. I control my cases, I control my staff, and I ensure our clients receive service that they are pleased with. This is my reputation on the line. The review was by "Mary." "Mary" said that she found our firm in the yellow pages. "Mary" said that we were motivated solely by money and that she "won" her case with another attorney.

After I read "Mary's" review, I sat down to think. And I put "Mary's" name in quotes not because I have changed her name - but because I don't know who "Mary" is. Sure, I have had clients named Mary, but none in the recent past. And I looked through my client database - we have never withdrawn from representation of a client named "Mary." And we do not heavily advertise in the yellow pages. And given the type of law we do, no one characterizes the end of a case as a "win" or a "loss". Then I sat down harder and looked at the text of the review - I realized it was strikingly similar to an email I got from a current client telling me what her HUSBAND thought of us on that day. And this email was received the same day the review was typed. Interesting. I can tell you that there are more times than I can count that a client's SPOUSE is displeased with us. That's the nature of the game. Divorces are tough. Custody is tough. Dividing years of assets and debts - tough. So, most of the time, if a client's spouse is displeased with our firm, we are doing our job. I could go on and on about online reviews in general (always be wary - more often than not the person who takes the time to go online and leave a review is angry, and I would guess most of the time not justifiably so - thus you need to look at ALL of the reviews and see what is the most common thread) but this is about my review. By "Mary".

And so, we contacted the website regarding the clearly fake review. It might stay, or maybe they will take it down; I am honestly not sure at this point. The moral of this story is to do your homework - and online reviews aren't enough - because the review you are reading just might have been typed by a man whose wife I represent who wasn't entirely pleased about the day's outcome in Court. And his name is probably NOT "Mary."

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