Your ABA

You're Good ... If the Net Says So


Michael Fertik

Michael Fertik: Reality may not be online.
Photo by Jayms Ramirez

Hard, honest work doesn’t count if professional accomplishments and accolades aren’t top results in a Google search of a lawyer’s name, a reputation management expert told lawyers at the ABA Annual Meeting.

“The Internet does not reflect reality,” said panelist Michael Fertik, CEO of ReputationDefender, a Redwood City, Calif., company that helps clients improve their image on the Web.

“One negative result in the top search results on Google reduces the chances that a new client will contact you,” said Fertik. “And you won’t know you’re not getting that chance.” Increased competition and information have made diligent online reputation management a necessity, said panelists. Static websites and law firm bios will fade in importance as ratings by clients and peers on sites like Avvo and Yelp gain traction.

Potential clients are more likely to trust a client review than an ad, and current clients are more vocal about lawyer performance than ever before.

“There’s been a shift in how people talk about each other,” said Natasha Innocenti, a partner at legal search consultancy Major, Lindsey & Africa in San Francisco and Palo Alto. “Lawyers are much more open about disparaging other lawyers. I’m often shocked about the things people will say about another partner.”

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