Tonight's post about a downside of being a public figure in family
law was written by our Savannah Family Law Attorney,
I received my first bad online review recently. After practicing for many
years now, it was bound to happen. There are few businesses that serve
the public that don't, at some point, suffer from someone emboldened
by the distance and anonymity of airing their grievances online. My favorite
restaurant has its share of bad reviews online, but I have never had anything
but a truly exceptional experience when we have dined there. The food
is great. The service is great. But some people aren't happy unless
they are saying bad things.
What was glossed over by this reviewer were a few important facts about
our approach to family law. First, our bill was 40% that of opposing counsel's.
Or to put it differently, it was 60% less. Yet I knew every financial
document between the parties (approximately 500 pages worth) and every
relevant fact of the 22 year marriage. Both sides showed up to mediation
equally prepared and knowledgeable of the facts of the case, yet my client
paid 40% of what his wife paid to get to that same point. This reviewer
was upset because his wife didn't agree with him and would not settle
on his terms. Not all cases settle at mediation, particularly when reason
and logic are eschewed for bitterness, anger and a desire to punish. Unfortunately,
I have yet to find a way to compel an opposing party to forego that mind
set and focus on achieving a result that is fair and reasonable. It takes
two to tango and it takes two to settle. Some cases just have to go before
I take solace in the reviews that other past clients have posted. Every
other review I have has been extremely positive. I don't write the
reviews for my clients. They are my former clients' words about their
own experiences with me. They mean a great deal to me because of that
and they clearly mean a great deal to those who come across them when
looking for an attorney that will be the best fit for them.
I also take solace that my reputation is more than what floats about in
cyber-space. Two hours after seeing this negative review, I found myself
in a courtroom waiting my turn before a judge before whom I regularly
appear. A pro se litigant was on the stand, having attempted to proceed
with his divorce on his own and had made several fatal errors on the child
support worksheets. This isn't uncommon as the worksheets can be rather
involved and complicated for someone who is untrained on them. The judge
surveyed the attorneys in the courtroom and called me to the bench, asking
me to take the case. The judge was familiar with our Justice CafÃ©
limited scope model and knew that we could assist this person with just
the items he needed without incurring additional legal expenses for the
work the party had otherwise correctly completed on his own. I cannot
think of a better compliment from this judge or a more timely example
of my actual reputation within the local Savannah legal community.
Few things are more valuable to me in my professional life as my reputation.
Reputations not only follow us through life, they can often be what others
know about us long before they meet us. I initially took this hostile
and false review quite personally, in large part because I am genuinely
concerned about my reputation. The review itself is rather telling - it
is so skewed and illogical that surely its credibility will be questioned
immediately. More importantly, it is but one person's opinion and
clearly not shared by any one else.
I am not immune to nor above criticism and quite frankly, without meaningful
critique, none of us would improve personally or professionally. But when
the apparent sole purpose of bashing someone out on cyberspace is nothing
but an effort to try and ruin them or vent misplaced frustration at a
soon-to-be ex, I can't help but believe that informed consumers will
read such a review for what it is and dismiss it accordingly.
On-line reviews should not be the beginning and end of anyone's search
for an attorney. If you're looking for a family law attorney, online
reviews are certainly helpful. But there is far, far more that you can
learn about someone you might hire. At The Manely Firm, we offer free
consultations to anyone who is facing a family law issue. Do your research
online, but come speak with us for free and decide for yourself whether
I or any of my colleagues at the firm are the right fit for you.
My reputation as a family law attorney will remain intact. My desire to
provide excellent, affordable service to my clients will ensure it. That's
what matters to me.