Online Reputation Management for Lawyers

Washington University Law article on ORM for attorneys. Why lawyers need reputation management and what online reputation management for lawyers involves. … More Online Reputation Management for Lawyers

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Overturning Mechanics Liens For Construction Projects

The economy has slowly been moving in a direction that has allowed the construction industry to pick back up. Modern homes are being constructed, and improvements on existing homes are being contracted. Mechanic’s liens are a vital tool within this process. Though most people don’t even know what these liens are, they play a crucial role in most construction type projects. Due to this, it is necessary for homeowners and contractors to understand how these liens work.

What is a Mechanic’s Lien

Mechanic’s liens are liens placed on property by contractors, suppliers, and subcontractors. These liens in effect ensure that workers, engineers and other vital characters in the construction process will be able to get their payment after all of their work is done on a property. A lien allows the claimant, also known as the lienor, to collect their owed money and sometimes even force the sale of a home to do so. It’s important to remember, however, that these liens are beneficial for everyone.

It’s quite obvious why mechanic’s liens are beneficial for contractors and subcontractors. Contractors can ensure that they’re paid by the homeowner, and subcontractors can ensure that they’re paid even if the homeowner or general contractor fails to pay them. Homeowners, however, also benefit. These liens allow construction projects to go forward without an otherwise full upfront payment. This can be very beneficial for anyone having construction performed.

Overturning Mechanic’s Liens

The best way to fight a mechanic’s lien is to ensure one is never placed on a property. This can be done by obtaining releases of lien from contractors, suppliers and subcontractors before making any payment on work that will be performed. If partial payments must be made, then partial releases should be obtained.

Before making a final payment, an individual should get an affidavit from the contractor that specifies every party that provided services or labor. The contractor should also show evidence that releases from these other parties have been obtained. Unfortunately, if these steps aren’t followed correctly, liens may exist on a property.

It is possible for a person to overturn a lien by filing bankruptcy. This is obviously a serious matter which should definitely be discussed with a qualified attorney. It is also possible to work something out with the lien holder for them to remove or waive the lien. Another obvious method of handling this is by paying off the owed debt, but there are times when liens are taken out completely dishonestly. This makes it absolutely vital to have an attorney in any of these scenarios.

Protecting Mechanic’s Liens

Contractors and subcontractors also have protections against those who try to file bankruptcy to avoid paying their legitimate debts. If a homeowner is simply trying to get work done for free, the courts can sometimes help. When bankruptcy is filed, automatic stays are put onto any foreclosure process that arises or is already in process. This means that claimants cannot collect their owed money in a court of law.

It is possible, however, for a contractor or subcontractor to file for relief from this automatic stay. This will allow them to foreclose on their lien, but this process must be done through the bankruptcy court. The claimant must show that just cause exists for this relief to be given, and this is sometimes a difficult process. Once again, an individual with a lawyer at their side has a much better chance of coming out of the mess successful. Obtaining the services of an accomplished attorney is likely the only way a contractor will be paid after a debtor files bankruptcy.

Mechanic’s liens have been in use in America since its founding, and they are a vital resource in stimulating construction projects. Laws related to mechanic’s liens, however, are fluid in a way. The need may arise for a homeowner or contractor to take steps to overturn or protect a lien, respectively. This may at times require legal help, but it’s a small price to pay to ensure a construction project is handled effectively.

For more information about mechanics lien, click here … More Overturning Mechanics Liens For Construction Projects

Do Insurance Attorneys Need Online Reputation Management 

Insurance attorneys are increasingly looking to online reputation management firms to repair negative reviews and reputation damage online. Insurance attorney’s may be in the direst need of services to repair and control their professional reputations on the web.

Why Do insurance Attorneys Need Online Reputation Management

When you’re a Florida resident and your house is severely damaged in a hurricane or other natural disaster and your property insurance wrongfully denies you coverage, you want to hire an insurance attorney that you know will get you the money you deserve. If you’re like the vast majority of American’s you’ll go to Google and search for local Daytona Beach insurance lawyers. Which one will you pick? Probably one with a stellar online reputation and an abundance of five-star ratings instead of one that’s featured on RipoffReport and has negative reviews on the BBB and Avvo. Hence the importance of online reputation management for insurance attorneys.

More insurance attorneys than ever before are using professional online reputation management services. We offer custom reputation management solutions designed specifically for insurance attorneys. If you are an insurance lawyer and want to take control of your online reputation contact us today to learn how we can help your law firm shine online. … More Do Insurance Attorneys Need Online Reputation Management 

Simple Steps to Managing Your Reputation in an Online World | Law Practice Division

WHEN ASKED the source of their new clients or business, most attorneys simply cite word of mouth or referrals, even in the Internet age. But to receive referrals, whether from other professionals or clients, an attorney must have an excellent reputation. Clients place trust in lawyers, revealing intimate details about their lives and businesses. Attorneys often hold their clients’ futures in their hands. If a client feels that his or her attorney didn’t have his or her best interests at heart, or that the attorney didn’t do a good job, that client likely will not refer colleagues or friends. Similarly, if a lawyer doesn’t impress colleagues, he or she won’t receive referrals from them. And any lawyer who leaves others with a poor impression is not likely to find it easy to land other jobs. In short, an attorney’s professional career rests upon his or her reputation.

Before the Internet, if a lawyer made a mistake or a client was dissatisfied, the client’s close friends and associates might find out about it. Word might even spread locally, potentially causing some damage to the attorney’s reputation. But with the proliferation of blogging, lawyer performance review websites and social media, a disgruntled client or angry colleague can do a lot more damage a lot faster—and spread it far more widely.
Whether lawyers blog or participate in social media themselves, they still need to be aware that others’ online activities may affect their reputations. They need to know how to respond if and when negative comments are made about them and how to counteract such negativity. Similarly, lawyers must monitor what marketers, search engine optimization consultants and others are doing online in their behalf. All information posted about you and your practice must be correct, and comments and links must be genuine and relevant.

ETHICAL ISSUES CAN ARISE

While attorneys have every right to defend themselves against online attacks, the constraints of the ethical rules apply even after the representation has ended. This may place lawyers in a difficult situation when a former client has posted something negative online in a very public space.

In September 2013, the ABA Journal ran a story by Debra Cassens Weiss, “Lawyer’s Response to Client’s Bad Avvo Review Leads to Disciplinary Complaint.” It discussed a Chicago employment lawyer accused of revealing confidential information about a former client in a response to a negative review on Avvo, a website that rates lawyers. And if the publicity about the case wasn’t bad enough, in January a follow-up article reported that the attorney was reprimanded as a result of her conduct.

You might think this is an isolated result. It isn’t. Earlier in 2013, an attorney in Georgia was disciplined after posting confidential information about a client in response to negative reviews posted about the attorney on consumer review websites.

STEPS TO AVOID TROUBLE

When faced with a negative online review, you naturally feel that you are being personally attacked—and wish to defend yourself. But lawyers need to use caution. Discussed below are some simple steps you can take to effectively manage your reputation online.

Monitor your own online presence.

Begin by ensuring that the information you, your firm and anyone on your behalf posts about you online is professional, accurate, informative and up-to-date. Then monitor your name and your firm’s name online through Google Alerts and other services so that you are notified when your name or your firm’s name is mentioned online. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you have no online footprint, you won’t get negative reviews. There are plenty of online rating websites, including sites specifically for rating lawyers such as Avvo and LawyerRatingz, that allow consumers to rate attorneys, whether the attorneys participate or not. Monitor those websites and check periodically to ensure you don’t miss any potentially problematic reviews.

Don’t add credibility to negative reviews.

If you do receive a negative review, stay calm. Don’t overreact, and don’t respond immediately. Resist the urge to tell your side of the story. Doing so got the Chicago lawyer, mentioned above, into trouble, at least in part. Often, telling your side of the story reveals some level of client confidentiality, which is strictly prohibited.
Responding substantively will likely do more harm than good. The more you protest, the more credibility you give to the comment, the more attention you bring to it and the more others reading the review and your response will think the client’s complaint has some merit. Don’t fall into this trap, especially when a review is written by an unrealistic or out-of-control client who exhibited irrational behavior during the representation. The client may see any substantive response as an invitation to “prove” that you performed badly in the matter.

Respond briefly, with concern.

If the review is factually true or merely expresses an opinion, look at it as an opportunity. Remember that your response to any negative review is mostly for people who may come across the information in the future, when they are looking for a lawyer, and less for the person who posted the bad review. Perhaps the best approach is to respond with concern, assure the client that you’re investigating the matter and, if you were not previously aware of the problem or have not already addressed it with the client, ask the client to contact you directly so that you can resolve the issue.

Or, if you know who the client is, contact him or her promptly—but don’t make assumptions. You may think you know which client wrote a given review, but often reviews are unsigned, so you need to be careful when resolving such issues.

Don’t ignore comments or respond negatively.

You don’t want to ignore the comment in most cases. Failure to respond may further anger the client or give future website visitors the impression that the client’s dissatisfaction is justified or that you don’t care enough about your client’s concerns to address them. If you have already addressed the issue, a simple acknowledgment of the comment and an expression of regret that the client had a bad experience may be enough.
Under no circumstances should you bad-mouth the client. When you respond badly, you take the risk that your negative response will be shared or even “go viral,” thereby accomplishing the opposite of what you intended.

Recognize that some negative reviews may derive from clients with unrealistic expectations—clients who would never be satisfied, regardless of the quality of the representation they received. Other clients simply aren’t rational. This comes across in the review in many instances, and the review can paint a worse picture of the reviewer than it does of you. Readers recognize such comments for what they are, especially if you have other, genuinely positive reviews from clients on the site.

Encourage positive feedback.

Asking clients for feedback, or asking them to post reviews after engagements end as a matter of course, can build up your positive reviews online. However, check your jurisdiction’s ethical rules to ensure that client reviews or testimonials are permitted before requesting any such feedback. Don’t post fake reviews or hire anyone else to do so, including a “reputation management” company. ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 7.1 prohibits lawyers from communicating “false and misleading” information about their services, and Model Rule 8.4(c) clearly states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. In addition, Model Rule 5.3 requires lawyers to supervise nonlawyers who work for them to ensure they do not violate the ethical rules.

Fake reviews are, by their very nature, false and misleading.
The digital world can be a scary place, but following these simple steps can help you to keep your online reputation intact. … More Simple Steps to Managing Your Reputation in an Online World | Law Practice Division

72% OF CONSUMERS RETAIN THE FIRST ATTORNEY THEY CONTACT

There is a good deal of discussion these days about client/case conversion but what attorneys often fail to realize is something that the insurance companies learned a long time ago: most people buy from the first responder. Geico, who has literally spent billions of dollars on their brand name alone, found in their own studies that most people will only get one insurance quote and then buy from that firm.

When it comes to attorneys, people’s buying habits are no different. In FindLaw’s recently released 2014 consumer legal needs survey they found that fully 72% of respondents indicated that they only contacted one attorney before selecting them. The remaining 15% contacted two attorneys and 13% three attorneys. In short, nearly ¾ of consumers do not continue to shop around after initially contacting an attorney. SO WHAT CAN ATTORNEYS LEARN FROM THIS? We know from previous studies that people will on average look at 4.8 attorney websites before they contact a firm – so they ARE shopping around. The issue here is that the shopping process for attorneys ends 72% of the time after the initial contact is made. So what can be done to help improve this process BEFORE the initial contact is made… IMPROVE YOUR BRAND & REPUTATION ONLINE Online consumer opinions were the backbone to building such websites as Amazon.com, ebay, Yelp and others.

Why? Because 79% of consumers now indicate that they trust online opinions about you. This is important for attorneys because many page-one search results for attorneys and/or law firms include consumer opinion sites like Yelp, AVVO, Google local and others. So have you created a strategy to manage your brand reputation online? Remember: if you do not proactively define your brand, others will define it for you. Since most referrals are given out in numbers, write down the names of your top 3-5 referrals competitors. Next, Google their names and firm names and look at the results – compare them to yours. Finally, look at their websites and also compare them to yours.

If you were an objective consumer who has never used an attorney before, which search results impress you the most? If it is not you, you have work to do here. IMPROVE YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE Is your online presence an accurate reflection of what you want people to think of your firm (your brand)? As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Most attorneys today already have a website so the question is moving beyond “IF” you need a website to now “HOW” you need a website. Most of your new and referral clients are looking at your website and formulating an opinion about you BEFORE they ever contact you. They are also increasing looking beyond your website alone to look for more information about you from other resources.

In a growing number of instances, we are seeing these “delayed conversions” in excess of 60% of the time. INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY Most attorneys limit their brand and online presence to a website alone and in most cases; their websites fail to provide high visibility in Google for anything beyond their own names. As we have previously discussed, a website is like a book and in order for search engines like Google to be able to properly index and display your website for desired searches, you have to structure the website optimally to do so. Additionally, your brand footprint should extend well beyond just your website alone so you can create additional citations to support your brand. People who don’t know you won’t always trust what you tell them on your website alone – they want citations to support it. These can come from videos, rating & accreditation websites, news, social media and others. Want a great example of how this can look? Try this one: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=tom+girardi INCREASE THE QUALITY OF YOUR CONTACTS We know from the same FindLaw survey that 74% of contacts attorneys receive are by phone while only 7% are by email and 2% by online contact form. We also know from other surveys that 80% of callers will hang-up when they get a voicemail. I am still amazed at how many times I will call a law firm on hours and off hours and receive a voicemail or no answer within 5-7 rings. If a caller receives and voicemail and/or if they hear 5-7 rings or more, you are sending them a message (intentional or not) that your contact is not of high importance to them.

If you do not have a live body answering the phone quickly 24/7 you are losing client and cases – period! In summary, people shop around for attorneys but 72% of the shopping stops at the first attorney they contact. Since the majority of the decisions the consumers and referrals make about you comes from their research online BEFORE they contact you, you need to be smart, proactive and competitive in your evaluations of how you can become the first attorney they chose to contact. You also need to make sure that they way the majority of them prefer to contact you (PHONE) leads to a conversion and not a hang-up. … More 72% OF CONSUMERS RETAIN THE FIRST ATTORNEY THEY CONTACT

A Good Law Firm Marketing Strategy Needs Online Reputation Management

A great law firm marketing service will get the law office and its lawyers valuable exposure on Google and social media sites and incorporate reputation management so that what prospective clients find is positive and encourages them to hire you instead of detering them from your firm. … More A Good Law Firm Marketing Strategy Needs Online Reputation Management