Client Ratings… a bad idea or long overdue?

by David E. Danielson on May 2, 2008 · 4 comments

in Ratings

I guess it’s all in who you ask.
Within LexisNexis I get involved in this discussion a lot these days. For some time we have been working on enhancing our attorney ratings to make them more comprehensive and useful to the consumer of legal services – from corporate counsel to consumer. Over the past year we have spoken to many members corporate counsel and they have consistently said that they would like to have client reviews as another factor in determining an attorney selection. But, at the same time we have also heard from attorneys who are concerned about this potential addition to the ratings. The question that I am interested in solving is “why this concern”?
First, I should say that I am not a lawyer and instead have technology roots but I do appreciate that we are talking about professional reputations here – so this is not a subject to be treated in a cavalier manner. But, to me this kind of end-user evaluation seems inevitable. We have lived in a world of retail and product ratings for many years and increasingly we are seeing ratings of professional services from consumer services like  Angie’s list of home services to doctor ratings through numerous sites such as Zagat’s partnership with Wellpoint to rate professionals within their HMO network . On the other hand, I am well aware of the heat that Avvo is taking on their lawyer ratings which seek to include many sources to come up with a “score” (which is being challenged by many) so it’s clear to me that the issue is a sensitive one in the legal community.: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1181898353512.
There should be a ”middle-ground” which supports transparency into the professional area and still supports consumer opinions and commentary which is part of a comprehensive set of evaluation criteria for a lawyer or law firm. But this also has to be carefully managed.  The danger, of course, would be if one particularly disgruntled individual decided to unreasonably or unfairly criticize an individual and that this rating was the cause of a skewed impression of the overall client opinions.
So, what if we required a minimum number of client reviews before any type of “scoring” or “rating” was presented to reduce sampling error, as a start? Would this help to balance the chance of a false client perspective? But, even this would not work if the majority of the clients would rate the lawyer poorly – so do we allow opt-out from lawyers? Do we show bad ratings at all or just show the “top ones”? Should lawyers control the display of their ratings or does that compromise the objectivity of the process?
So, here’s what I think…ratings are inevitable and unavoidable. The key is doing it credibly and transparently…but we should move forward with client reviews as soon as possible.
What do you think?

[LNG1]Added hyperlink to press releases

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous wrote onOctober 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I resent the fact that if a customer is dissatisfied people such as noted on this board they automatically consider dissatisfied customer disgruntled. How much did I pay for my divorce lawyers services? More than $5,000.00. What did I get out of it? I got everything I asked for in my divorce. How much work did my lawyers office put into the job? AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. How much work did I have to put into it? WAY MORE THAN I SHOULD HAVE HAD TO. I HAD TO DO MY OWN RESEARCH AND I TYPED MY OWN DIVORCE CONTRACT AND SENT IT TO HER OFFICE VIA EMAIL! I STILL HAVE THE EMAILS TO PROVE IT! ALL HER OFFICE HAD TO DO WAS PUT IT IN LEGAL TERMS OF WHICH THEY STILL COULDN’T GET RIGHT. SEVERAL TYPOS, INCORRECT INFORMATION ECT..AND EACH TIME I FOUND A MISTAKE OR TYPO THAT NEEDED TO BE CORRECTED IT COST ME EXTRA MONEY! I WAS SHOCKED SHE EVEN ACTUALLY SHOWED ON THE DAY OF COURT!

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ANONYMOUS wrote onOctober 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

SAD THING IS…I TRIED TO LOOK FOR INFORMATION ON DIVORCE LAWYERS BACK WHEN I WAS LOOKING AND COULD NOT FIND ANYTHING THAT WOULD HELP ME MAKE A SOUND DECISION ON WHO TO HIRE FOR SERVICES. THIS SITE IS LONG OVERDUE. YOU WOULDN’T GO TO JUST ANY DOCTOR FOR SURGERY WITHOUT DOING RESEARCH WOULD YOU? SO WHY SHOULD IT BE ANY DIFFERENT WITH RESPECTS TO FINDING AN ETHICAL, HARD WORKING LAWYER WHO WILL FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS?

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caldwell hancock wrote onJune 2, 2010 at 1:35 pm

one has to beg in order to get a happy client to register and write.
unhappy client will take the time to say negative things that may in fact be slanderous. You will be publishing a rating based on lies and hyperbole.
First time I see a client review rating on my listing that is anything but A+++, you can imagine what will happen next. I do not need that kind of “help” from MH.

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Anonymous wrote onDecember 7, 2008 at 4:08 am

The “particularly disgruntled individual” really exists and he/she will go through a tedious user registration process in order to “get even” with the attorney. The satisfied customer will say a nice thank you to the attorney and not bother to become a Martindale.com registered user in order to post positive comments.

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