A good reputation is central to a successful practice. Compared to other professions, attorneys are especially dependent on their reputation to bring them business, respect, and career success. But it's not just word of mouth that shapes your reputation anymore. When it comes to a lawyer's reputation, the Internet is where it's at.
That means that attorneys need to, at the least, devote some time and effort to monitoring and managing their online reputation. Here are three tips for protecting your good name online:
1. Lock Down Your Domains
There are more than a few lawyers who simply have no interest in an online presence. Their firms run solely on word of mouth, or their docket is full, or they simply don't want to be contacted by crazies from the Internet. We understand -- but simply ignoring the Internet isn't really a viable strategy anymore.
Here's why. Imagine you have a disgruntled client who believes you botched her medical malpractice suit. Or perhaps the upset voice comes from the other side of the aisle -- an angry man who believes you ruined his marriage and his life by representing his wife in their divorce.
For less than the cost of a good steak, either of them could buy YourName.com and suddenly anyone who seeks out your website is directed to someone else's rantings. Buy up your domain names, even if you're just going to sit on the properties.
2. Get Your Name Online
Part of managing your reputation online is making sure you control what's attached to your name. The best way to do that? Put your own content out into the Internet. Starting up a legal blog or contributing to a legal website can help your name proliferate online. Avoid giving specific legal advice, but do share your general expertise -- and once you've done that, share your posts via your website, Facebook, Twitter and the like. Not only will you establish a reputation as someone knowledgable in the field, you should also start to see yourself inching up the Google rankings.
3. Monitor Your Online Presence
Sure, Googling yourself is narcissistic, but not if it's for a reason besides vanity. Monitoring your Google results can help you know what's being said about you online and what sort of online presence you're making. Set up a Google Alert for your name, your firm's name, and any particular matters or issues you're working in. That way, Google will send you regular emails whenever anything new pops up.
Keep an eye on reviews that appear online, with special attention paid to Yelp reviews and other popular review sites. Online reviews online can greatly impact how colleagues and potential clients view you. Make sure you keep an eye out on what's being said, but remember to tread carefully if you've received negative feedback.