Yelp May Sometimes Treat Lawyers Unfairly – But Don’t Respond To That Nasty Review

I have written and given presentations on basic ideas that lawyers should consider in the social media context. One common problem is the mean-spirited Yelp review.

One thing to remember is that several lawyers have been disciplined for responding to reviews posted on Yelp or Avvo or other sites. The lawyer is vulnerable because the lawyer cannot reveal any confidential information in responding to the review. If confidential information about a client or former client is revealed, a disciplinary complaint is sure to follow.

With that being said, I noted the following review on my own Yelp page:

I contacted this firm to take over our case. He said he needed to review our case and would get back to me. This was two weeks ago. I sent him 2 emails with no response and called him again. He again said he is reviewing it and would get back to me. That was a week ago. He just emailed me TODAY telling me he does not want the case. Well thanks a lot for the notice!!! I had to have my new counsel file an appearance by TOMORROW! Glad I didn’t put all my eggs in his basket. If this is any indication how he handles his cases……beware!”

The reviewer believes that I took too long to decline to represent him. The problem for me is that – we have no idea who this person is and no record of his name or any similar name in our computers. Worse still, the reviewer allegedly hails from another state, where I am not licensed to practice law. After a careful search of my computers, I was unable to determine if this reviewer ever contacted our firm.

Yelp, of course, does not allow the lawyer to respond to reviews.

There is only one thing you can say for sure – if I did reject this matter and this client (We have no record of any communication with any such person), it was the correct decision.

As for Yelp, there is little that can be done about a review that is false other than filing a lawsuit and wasting time on an unproductive endeavor. Like other professionals, we lawyers have to accept that the First Amendment protects free speech and sometimes clients exercise free speech. 

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