Online Review Solicitation Service
Opinion rules that, subject to certain conditions, a lawyer may participate in an online service for soliciting client reviews that collects and posts positive reviews to increase the lawyer’s ranking on internet search engines.
Repsight.com is an online service that offers to help lawyers accumulate more positive client reviews. Repsight contends that positive client reviews give law firms added credibility with potential customers and help increase search rankings in Google searches. For a monthly fee, Repsight will contact a client via text or email to solicit a review from the client. The number of contacts made by Repsight is based on the amount of the monthly fee.
After completing legal services for a client, the lawyer will log in to Repsight.com and enter the client’s email address or phone number and presses the “send” button. Repsight then sends the client a text or an email thanking the client for the client’s business and asks the client to click a button to rate the lawyer’s services. The client then chooses between 1 and 5 stars, with 5 stars being the highest rating. If the client rates the lawyer 3 stars or less, Repsight redirects the client to a private feedback form. The lawyer will receive the client’s comments, but the comments will not be posted on the lawyer’s Google review page. If the client gives the lawyer a 4- or 5-star review, the client is redirected to the lawyer’s Google review page (with 5 stars already populated) so that the client can leave the lawyer a positive review.
May a lawyer participate in the Repsight service?
Yes, if certain conditions are met.
A client’s name and contact information are confidential and may not be revealed unless the client gives informed consent. Rule 1.6(a). Before the lawyer may provide a client’s contact information to Repsight, the lawyer must obtain the client’s informed consent. “Informed consent” denotes the agreement by a person to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation appropriate to the circumstances. Rule 1.0(f).
To obtain the client’s informed consent and to avoid misrepresentation, the lawyer must explain to the client that the lawyer uses Repsight. The lawyer is also obligated to disclose Repsight’s process, to wit: the lawyer pays a monthly fee for Repsight services; the lawyer will provide the client’s name and contact information to Repsight after the representation has concluded; Repsight will contact the client regarding the review; only 4- and 5-star reviews will be posted on Google and other internet search engines; and 3 stars or less reviews will be shared with the lawyer, but will not be posted by Repsight or the lawyer anywhere on the internet. See Rule 1.4; Rule 8.4(c).
If a lawyer obtains the client’s informed consent to provide the client’s contact information to Repsight, must the lawyer post or direct Repsight to post all reviews, including reviews of 3 stars or less?
No, provided the lawyer does not deceive the client about the treatment of negative reviews and adequately explains that reviews of 3 stars or less will not be posted on the internet. See Rule 8.4(c).
When a client gives a lawyer a negative review, the lawyer may contact the client to address the client’s concerns. If after the communication the client agrees to change the negative review and provide a 4- or 5-star review, may the lawyer direct Repsight to contact the client to obtain and post the revised review?
Yes, subject to certain conditions. There can be no quid pro quo for the revised review. See Rule 7.2(b). Also, the lawyer may not solicit, encourage, or assist in the posting of fake, false, or misleading reviews. See Rule 8.4(c). Finally, the lawyer may not threaten, bully, or harass the client to provide a positive 4- or 5-star review. See Rule 8.4, cmt. . See generally 2018 FEO 1.