Lan Cai was driving home from her job as a waitress when she was hit by a drunk driver. And, like many car accident victims, Cai, a 20-year-old nursing student in Houston, felt like she needed the help of attorneys afterwards. Enter the Law Offices of Tuan A. Khuu, whose lawyers were so eager to sign Cai up that they allegedly came into her bedroom while she was undressed and sleeping, in order to get her business. But that drive didn't seem to last; in the days following her accident, Cai says her lawyers would not return her calls and even ran off when she came to their office.
Cai eventually retained new counsel, then went online to complain that the attorneys were "super unprofessional" and "pushy." Now, the firm is suing Cai, rather than representing her.
Sued Over Online Reviews
Unhappy with her initial lawyers, Cai took to Yelp and Facebook to recount her experience. On the Facebook group "Vietnamese Americans in Houston," Cai wrote, according to the Houston Press, that:
After 3 days, they didn't tell me anything about the doctor I needed to go to. I was in a lot of pain. Not only that, they didn't know where the hell my car was! And they came to my house and into my room to talk to me when I was sleeping in my underwear. Seriously, it's super unprofessional! ... I came in to the office to meet with my previous attorney, but he literally ran off.
Soon, Cai's previous attorneys became aware of her post and demanded that she remove them. When she did not, the firm sued for defamation. According to Keith Nguyen, a lawyer at the Law Offices of Tuan A. Khuu, Cai's reviews were full of damaging "half-truths." The attorneys were invited in to Cai's house by her mother, he explains, and did not "run off," when she approached them in person -- her attorney was simply already leaving for the day.
"We don't mind if someone writes a bad review," he says, "as long as it's true."
Lawyering in the Yelp Age
Believe it or not, negative online reviews like Cai's are a rarity. (Rarer, even, is the attorney who sues over them.) According to a survey from FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing, 57 percent of consumers who have used an attorney recently have left an online review or rating, and the vast majority of them were positive.
Which is, in many ways, good news for lawyers. When it comes to choosing representation, more and more customers are turning to the same websites they use to pick a new restaurant or find good dry cleaning. And two-thirds of consumers say that they're more likely to hire attorneys with online reviews. (Just maybe let them get out of bed and put their pants on first.)