Legal Marketing News

Online Reviews: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

picThe real cost of getting client reviews

Online reviews are an essential component of any digital marketing campaign.  Positive client reviews create what is known as social proof.  Social proof or informational social influence “is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”  The idea is that if something has been accepted or liked by others, then more people will be motivated to use that product, try that business or use that service.  In addition to reviews, social proof can be offered by trusted industry leaders recommending a service or product, testimonials or even social media followers.  A large percentage of people go to yelp before trying a new restaurant.  Consumers regularly rely on google reviews before purchasing a product.  It can be tempting to solicit positive reviews by whatever means necessary.  The problem is that it could get you in big trouble.

 

Client Reviews: The Good

As we mentioned, client reviews offer social proof that your business is well-liked and that you are good at what you do.  As attorneys, word-of-mouth has been an essential component to getting new clients.  You do good work for your client; they tell others, you get new clients.  Enter the digital world and an ultra-competitive market.  Word-of-mouth referrals are no longer enough to keep most firms afloat.  You must have a robust online presence and a comprehensive digital marketing campaign to compete.  Even if you are getting old school word-of-mouth referrals, those prospective clients are still going online.  The original personal recommendation may have gotten them to your website, but the social proof will be what makes them give you a call.

 

Online Reviews: The Bad

When asking clients to leave reviews, or even when you don’t ask, you run the risk of receiving a negative review.  It could be a legitimate client who feels that you performed less-than-adequate work for them.  It could be a competitor (which brings a whole other set of ethical concerns).  It could even be a disgruntled ex-employee or girlfriend or anybody with a keyboard.  The internet offers anonymity and while review sites such as Yelp, AVVO and Google are working hard to stop fake reviews, they still exist.  If you do receive a negative review, you need to take steps to address it.  Responding immediately out of frustration or anger is never a good idea, but you do want to take time to issue a rational response.  If you feel that an actual client did not leave the review, you can petition the site to have it removed.

 

And Now… The Ugly

Attorneys have to be very careful when dealing with online reviews.  There are definite ethical considerations in soliciting client reviews that can not only get your highly sought after positive reviews removed from a review website but can also get you in hot water with the state bar association.  Most Rules on Professional Conduct prohibit offering any money in exchange for reviews or endorsements unless it is marked as a “paid” endorsement.  Some ban it altogether.  Review sites have started to take action as well.  Google recently removed nearly 100 positive reviews solicited from an attorney who offered free zoo tickets as an incentive.

 

That being said – we in no way want to discourage you from getting online reviews.  They are an essential part of your online footprint.  They can serve a crucial role in getting new clients and are a great way to establish your firm as an industry leader.  We only caution against an all-or-nothing strategy.  Do good work, have a reliable system for closing out case files and asking for reviews.  The rest is easy.  Well, not easy, but worth the effort.

 

 

Learn more about the importance of social proof from Amicus Media Group.  We are a full-service legal marketing firm.  Our network of media relationships is unparalleled.  We will work directly with you to develop a customized ad campaign to get you more cases at less risk.  Contact us today for a free consultation.

 

This blog post does not contain legal or financial advice. Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.

 

 

 

Pennsylvania Superior Court Remands Risperdal Verdict to Lower Court to consider New Trial on Punitive Damages

pic2The third Risperdal case to go to trial has been remanded to the trial court to consider whether there should be a new trial.  At question is whether to apply punitive damages to the verdict.  The case, Murray v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals originally rendered a $1.75 million verdict.  The amount was later reduced to $680,000 by the trial court after Janssen moved for a modification of the verdict.  The modification of the damages was granted when the trial court applied Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages.

 

The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the trial court’s reduction of the verdict but sent the case back to the trial court to consider punitive damages.  In a previous case, the court had decided that Risperdal plaintiffs should be able to seek and recover punitive damages.  The trial court must now decide whether to apply the substantive law or New Jersey or Maryland.  New Jersey law strictly prohibits recovery of punitive damages in products liability cases.  Maryland law, however, allows for a plaintiff to recover punitive damages or those damages designed to punish the defendant’s conduct.

 

History of Risperdal Cases

In 1994, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Risperdal to treat schizophrenia in adults.  In June 2006, a study linked use of the drug with an increased likelihood of male breast growth, a condition known as gynecomastia.  Despite this study, the FDA approved the drug for treatment of schizophrenia in boys between the ages of 13 and 17 years old.  The drug was also approved to treat bipolar disorder in children between the ages of 10 and 17.  By September of 2012, over 400 lawsuits are filed against manufacturers of Risperdal.  At least 130 of these cases involve plaintiffs who have suffered from gynecomastia.  Today there are over 5500 Risperdal lawsuits pending in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

 

In the matter of Pledger v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals the jury awarded the plaintiff $2.5 million after testimony that 21-year-old Austin Pledger had developed 46DD breasts as a result of taking Risperdal at the age of 12.  The jury found that Janssen Pharmaceuticals was negligent and failed to provide adequate warnings to Pledger’s physician about the risk of gynecomastia.

 

In the matter of Yount v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the jury awarded a $76.6 million judgment. The jury found that Johnson and Johnson subsidiary Janssen did “intentionally falsify, destroy or conceal records containing material evidence in the case.” Other plaintiffs have received jury awards from $500,000 to $1 million. Johnson and Johnson have agreed to confidential settlements in some other cases.

 

Risperdal litigation is still ongoing.  Thousands of people have been affected by this drug and others.  Amicus Media Group is dedicated to bringing you the latest information on Risperdal lawsuits, mass torts, class action lawsuits and products liability litigation.  We provide comprehensive legal marketing services for attorneys practicing in these fields.  Contact us today for more information.

 

This blog post does not contain legal or financial advice. Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.

 

Devastating Wildfires Spur Legislative Action

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Why insurance can be your adversary after a natural disaster

The news was plagued with images of Hell on Earth as fires ripped through Northern and Southern California.  The fires were relentless, leaving smoking chimneys as the only remnants of multi-million dollar homes.  The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reportsThe devastation is utterly unfathomable.  Many wildfire victims had only minutes to evacuate their homes losing everything but the clothes on their back and few mementos they could grab before leaving.  As the dust begins to settle for those greatest affected by this destruction, the reality hits that those who are supposed to make you whole again may not have your best interest in mind.

 

California Lawmakers take Action

Eight bills have been submitted to California legislators regarding insurance companies’ relationship with victims.  Legislators were flooded with phone calls from citizens who were being inundated with misinformation and the inability to recover money to rebuild their homes.  Insurance adjusters told many that they did not have enough insurance to cover rebuilding.  Some were given false information about their rights after a total loss of their residence.  Complaints about out-of-state adjusters not knowing California law filled the phone lines.  Many of the bills focus on requiring insurance companies to cover full replacement costs and would make it difficult for insurers to cancel policies or reduce coverage in areas at highest risk for wildfires.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times follows several wildfire victims who have lost everything and are now in battles with their insurance companies to get recovery.  The insurance companies have become their adversary, giving out false information about their coverage including their rights to recovery.  According to a lawsuit filed by the victims, adjusters flooded in from out-of-state, “most failed to register, worked unsupervised and did not know California law.”

 

Adjusters put on Notice

Complaints from survivors prompted California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones to issue a formal notice.  In the statement, Jones stated “all claims adjusters assigned to wildfire claims, including those not licensed in California, are properly trained on the California Unfair Practices Act, Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations and all laws relating to property and casualty insurance claims handling.

The Commissioner pointed out that many survivors of the wildfires were told blatantly false statements, including:

  • Incorrect time frames – survivors were told that they had only 6 -12 months to collect full replacement cost to rebuild when California law requires that they are given at least 24 months in a state of emergency.
  • Incorrect rebuilding location recovery – policyholders were told that they would be unable to receive full replacement benefits if they did not rebuild in the same location. California law allows for a survivor to rebuild in a new location or choose a home that is already built.
  • Incorrect living expense coverage – claimants were informed that their living expense would only be allocated for 12 months when California law allows up to 24 months after a state of emergency.

 

How Attorneys Can Help

Given the frustrating state of affairs and the slow legislative process, the best advice for anyone affected by a natural disaster is to contact an attorney.  The interests of a policyholder and their insurance company are naturally at odds.  The conflict comes down to financial interests.  The more that the insurance company has to pay out, the less they make in profits.  An attorney can help you understand your rights.  They can help you negotiate your claim and fight for what you deserve.  Unfortunately, your adjuster may not be giving you accurate information.  The California Department of Insurance found that many adjusters did not know California law after a state of emergency is declared by an official.  Many were poorly trained and gave false information about policyholder benefits.  An attorney will fight to make you whole again and will not rest until you get the recovery that you deserve.

 

If you or a loved one has been affected by the recent wildfires contact Amicus Media Group immediately.  We work with attorneys from across California that can help you understand your rights and get you the recovery you deserve.

 

This blog post does not contain legal or financial advice. Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.