UK Law firms are using legal standing to have poor online reviews removed

(Posted on 03/04/19)

Solicitors are using their legal clout to threaten legal review sites into removing reviews they deem to be negative.

Legal review sites in the UK are a blossoming business with ours alone having already nearly 19,000 reviews. Our trip advisor style reviews operate as part of a unique platform containing information about compliance breaches from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Legal ombudsman data, as well as other information all on one searchable site. The reason I set the site up was to empower the consumer to make an informed choice based on bringing this meaningful data together.

Legal Threats

Legal review websites are striving to ensure greater transparency in the legal industry by requesting more client reviews. However, this is sometimes hampered by law firms who request negative reviews are taken down, sometimes even going as far as to threaten defamation suits and sent intimidating letters to former clients.

We have had a number of worried clients who have left reviews asking us to remove a review they have posted. We do this immediately to avoid any undue stress, however once removed we always ask what prompted them to request the removal. It is 9 times out of 10 the solicitor has “asked” them to do it. I have heard of some outrageous cases where a client has been bullied

Buyers Beware

So how do we deal with this situation? We have reached a compromised position which both allows reviews to be taken down upon request and also continue in our aim of emancipating consumers: If a client or a solicitor requests a review is removed then it is but we keep score and display the number of reviews removed. If they ask for their listing to be removed completely then in its place the listing simply displays: ‘This solicitor asked for their reviews to be removed from and the ability to leave further reviews has been disabled.’

This is Darwinian natural selection where solicitors you might not want to instruct will remove themselves out of the gene pool. Our website allows people to find a trusted solicitor by comparing client reviews, SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority), disciplinary history and other information. This then, with the number of removed reviews or the absence of reviews altogether proves to be a powerful tool for selecting a trustworthy solicitor.

If solicitor firms have taken the decision to remove themselves then it will be difficult for clients to check their records and it is hoped an attitude of “if they are not included” clients will be less likely to instruct them.

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