Even in this high-tech age, a majority of attorneys maintain that they obtain a considerable percentage of their clients through word-of-mouth referrals. With that said, even when a word-of-mouth referral occurs, odds are that a prospective client is going to do some due diligence and check out the background and reputation of a lawyer. This will include Internet research.
Twenty-first century attorneys and law firms should pay strict attention to their reputations. They must have a reputation management scheme, perhaps even the services of a reputation management firm, according to the American Bar Association.
Proactive Approach to Reputation Management
The wisest course of action for an attorney to take in regard to reputation management may be a proactive approach. An attorney cannot be passive when it comes to building a reputation, either in the brick and mortar world or online. A lawyer must be diligent about building their reputation on his or her terms.
A proactive approach to reputation management can include regular blog postings, utilization of press releases, and the writing of topical articles that are distributed via a number of different media outlets.
The Bill Clinton 1992 presidential campaign really coined the concept of rapid response. Very quickly, the concept of rapid response expanded beyond the political arena and became an effective tool for a business or a professional facing an assault on his or her reputation.
A lawyer or legal firm is wise to include a rapid response protocol within the overall reputation management scheme. In other words, a lawyer or legal firm needs a viable strategy by which a quick response can be made to a reputation assault. In most cases, ignoring an attack made on the reputation of an attorney is not the most effective approach.
Crisis Management Plan
Although a lawyer or law firm can hope to never face a time when a crisis erupts, in this day and age, that is probably wishful thinking. Even a diligent, hardworking, honest attorney can end up under attack by a former client or someone else. What is being said about a lawyer may be entirely false, but it is being expressed publicly and perception is everything.
Having a crisis management plan in place before such an event occurs can make the difference between successfully navigating the situation or possibly making it even worse. In most cases, an attorney is best served engaging the services of a media relations professional to develop a useful crisis communication plan. There are professionals that specialize in crisis communication, including preventative strategies and planning. In more recent times, there are crisis communications professionals that focus their work in exclusively representing attorneys and law firms.
Hire a Professional
The reality is that the typical attorney is overworked. In addition, while an attorney typically has a broad skill set, reputation management is not necessarily part of the mix. Consequently, as a general rule, an attorney is well served engaging the services of a reputation management professional. In addition, should a lawyer or law firm end up in a media or public relations storm of some sort, retaining the services of a crisis communications specialist may be their best strategy.
Thanks to our friends from Yee Law Group for their added insight into the need for reputation management.