How important is it for you in a legal job to optimise and protect your and your law firms’ online reputation?
Like every profession, success as a lawyer is heavily dependent on the reputation you build throughout your career. This reputation predominantly comes on the back of hard work, how you conduct yourself professionally and the wins you have both in and outside of the courtroom.
However, the digital age we live in means that a new aspect of reputation building and optimising must also be considered – a lawyer’s online reputation. With the web an intrinsic part of our lives in terms of it being a space to occupy and interact via, most of us have digital footprints all over the online space.
Some of the footprints we leave ourselves, from likes and posts on socials to mentions or interviews in digital media to writing blog posts on topics we feel strongly about or are subject matter experts in. But there is also the potential for others to make mention of us, predominantly through reviews left in various digital corners and spaces across the web.
Given the often delicate or life-changing matters lawyers deal with, here are three things you can do to optimise and protect your online reputation as a lawyer or if you’re in another legal job.
1. Never take your eyes off the digital ball
It’s well known that lawyers, especially early in their careers, work long hours to gain experience, credibility and build their legal reputations. So, the thought of spending even more time monitoring the web for mentions or reviews of you is another chunk of your week devoted to work.
However, this monitoring is maybe the most critical aspect of tending to your reputation because the sooner you discover content that may affect your professional standing, the sooner you can strategize what to do (or not to do!) about it.
Don’t fret: It’s not necessarily as difficult or time consuming as it sounds.
Perform a simple Google search of your name and maybe one other search term to ensure the search captures you (eg your location, the firm you work for, the term ‘lawyer’ etc) and not someone else, and focus on the first 2-3 pages of this search because most of the public rarely go beyond even the first page of search when Googling.
From here, you can consider ways to get the pages that show you in the best light higher in search by optimising them where possible for SEO. There are plenty of companies that can help you with this but if you have the inclination, there are some simple things you can do yourself – check out these tips from Michigan Tech.
You can also set up Google alerts to email you when your name/search terms pop up on the web somewhere.
2. Be across client reviews
Testimonials and reviews aren’t unique to the digital age (remember good old word of mouth?) but have taken on a more powerful role in how people find you as a lawyer.
Of course, as any lawyer who has gone into bat for clients whose reputation has been damaged by online reviews knows, this ability to leave reviews is open to trolling and using the digital space to damage reputation out of malice or spite. But it’s also a force for good!
So, how to manage this, good or bad? When you know you have a client particularly pleased with the work you’ve done, don’t be afraid to ask them to leave a review, either via emailing your firm so it can be put on a testimonials page or somewhere online such as a post on LinkedIn or through sites such as TrustPilot.
And, when you come across a negative review, don’t back away from it! Most sites give you the capacity to respond – but, of course, tread carefully when you do. Lawyers face the added layer of difficulty around ethics and client confidentiality, so reaching out via the review for a private discussion with the aggrieved reviewer is often the best way to go.
3. Engage in thought leadership
How many times have you used ‘Dr Google’ to self-diagnose before going for professional advice? Or jumped on YouTube to work out how to replace that pesky light in the microwave? People are on the web looking for all kinds of ‘free’ information to help manage their lives, and information about the law is no different.
While the web and Google can never substitute for the real thing, and ultimately people will end up seeking actual advice, publishing legal thought leadership pieces is a great way to improve your Google search rankings, build both your online and IRL reputation, and generate leads for more work.
Writing insightful pieces about your area of speciality, op-eds about current issues or commenting on relevant industry topics via your own blog/website (all ticked off by your firm, of course!) or on your firm’s site will further your positive reputation online and offer the chance to build greater authority in your field.
How long these pieces are and how often you publish them comes down to the time you have at your disposal, but the key is being regular, attentive to some of the SEO tips mentioned above and, most importantly, writing well-researched, written and edited copy because Google ranks this higher in search.
Writing a thought piece even just once a month or bimonthly can also grow an online audience that keeps coming back for more.
Gorilla Jobs Can Help You
We love what we do at Gorilla Jobs, and while there are challenges, we are always ready to help you as a candidate or recruiting organisation to ensure the best talent ends up in the best jobs. Reach out to us today if you have any questions!