About Those Lawyer Ratings…

I do it, and it’s likely you do, too.

You want to try a new restaurant, or you plan to see a particular movie, or you need a new dentist. What’s the first thing we do? We take a look at the online reviews, of course.

But are they reliable? According to this N.Y. Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/09/technology/online-reviews-researchers-give-them-a-low-rating.html), we all may be better off if we didn’t take them too seriously.

I can speak only about the business I know so well—divorce law and mediation. It’s not a business that often lends itself to satisfaction and happiness.

A few years back, I stopped looking at reviews of me. I had become dismayed. Yes, I had some truly favorable reviews, and for those I am and will always be grateful. But it was the negative ones that got to me. No surprise there, I suppose, but let me tell you why.

I was dismayed because a client, then involved in a not-too-pleasant divorce, had told me that her husband was going to “Yelp” me. She did not mean favorably. Sure enough, there it was on “Yelp,” or someplace like that, just as my client had warned, almost verbatim, and—surprise—not flattering.

I was dismayed about the person who complained that his divorce was taking too long. To that I say: breaking into your spouse’s apartment and slicing up the leather furniture doesn’t help to promote a speedy, good-faith resolution. (I’ve changed the facts slightly to protect any possible identification.)

I was dismayed because someone had posted a review warning that “he doesn’t work on Fridays.” To me, this news was huge and, alas, incorrect. Then again, would a four-day week be so bad?

I was dismayed, utterly, when someone posted a rating under the headline “Incompant.” I take this to mean incompetent, and it’s comforting to know that what our mothers told us was true: what you say about someone (particularly if you can’t spell) says more about you than it does about the other person. For complicated reasons that are not relevant, I found out that this person had never been a divorce client. He had been a mediation client who had developed buyer’s remorse after signing a divorce agreement that he came to regard as unfair. (Note: as a mediator, it’s my job to help a couple reach an agreement that they believe is fair; whether I believe it’s fair is neither here nor there.)

So I don’t look at many reviews. If I do, I take them with a grain of salt.

And I’ve completely sworn off looking at any reviews of me. I’ll always do my best, and I’ll just let the Yelps fall where they may.

Thank you for reading.

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