After graduating from law school, Kevin and Lisa Smith started their careers working for established firms in the suburbs. Both firms were busy; the towns were booming with new real estate developments, and young families were buying homes. Kevin and Lisa became skilled in residential and commercial real estate law, and then in small business law.
As good people and attorneys, they were determined to provide good legal services.
In time, they opened their own firm, Smith & Smith, LLP in another rapidly growing town. Land developers, home builders and realtors were coming to them for legal services. People starting small businesses in town became their clients as well.
The years went by. As the town’s population aged, couples came to them for estate planning, wills and trusts. Some couples separated and turned to them for divorce and child custody arrangements.
Kevin and Lisa served their clients well. Their firm seemed successful. But occasionally, a client was disgruntled. A division of property didn’t work out the way they expected, or a case was contested and dragged on and on. When clients were disappointed, some posted negative reviews of Smith & Smith on Google, Yelp, Yahoo, Avvo or Lawyers.com.
Business got slow, then slower. Smith & Smith began limping, then struggling.
What went wrong?
Kevin and Lisa were being attacked by the very population they loved serving. The firm was like the frog being slowly cooked to death. Revengers, competitors, and paid reviewers were dragging them down.
The online marketplace had been evolving at Web speed. Google now listed Smith and Smith in its search results alongside all their local competitors, together with client ratings and reviews of the attorneys and firms. Attorneys with 4-star or 5-star ratings and great reviews were taking all the new business, while Smith and Smith was getting pushed down and out.
Eventually Kevin and Lisa “got it.” They realized that their firm’s reputation had changed. They were no longer perceived as a “go to” firm. It was a mind-boggling reversal. Bad reviews were eroding their reputation. And they hadn’t even known it was happening.
It was much less fair than a courtroom. They were being judged online in the court of public opinion. A verdict was rendered against them without notice, before they had said a word.
Family members noticed that they were struggling financially, and offered unsolicited advice. Friends stopped asking, “How’s business?” Kevin and Lisa began to despair. They didn’t know what to do.
But they learned. They got help with reputation management and online exposure. They became proactive with building their practice as a business. This alone got them more clicks. They also had
their website converted to mobile-friendly, another way they had been behind the curve. As a result, things improved. Momentum grew. Their situation of stagnation was over.
Their long-held dream of continuing success was finally coming true.
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