The word 'testimonial' is a word used to describe someone giving testimony and swearing to tell the truth.
In today's usage, when someone is giving a testimonial, it's usually to describe their feelings and thoughts about someone's product or service.
When considering hiring an attorney, why is it important to find out if he's had satisified or unsatisfied clients?
We, as consumers want to learn from other people who have used that exact service or product before we choose to use it.
Just look at Amazon.com.
Tons of reviews from people who have bought and used a product.
We want to know what others' have experienced with a product you want to buy, especially a big ticket item.
Research has repeatedly shown that consumers are much more affected with their purchasing choices by consumers who are giving real opinions and thoughts compared to what the manufacturer or owner puts out for public consumption.
Testimonials are powerful.
Now lets chat briefly about testimonials for attorneys...
Did you know that in New York a lawyer is NOT allowed to put an EXISTING client's testimonial on their website?
The only type of testimonial we are allowed to show you is from clients whose cases have finished.
We must also warn you that "Past results do not guarantee what an attorney can accomplish for you."
Why do I put that disclaimer in there?
Because there are no guarantees. Ever.
No matter what you think of your case.
No matter what an expert thinks of your case.
No matter what some other friend or family member thinks.
A lawyer can never promise to get you a certain result. Ever.
A testimonial by a former client who says their lawyer was the best lawyer in the world, does not mean that they are the best lawyer for YOU.
Nor does it mean they are right for your particular case.
Nor does it mean their lawyer can get the same type of result for YOU.
Having said that, a testimonial is a wonderful way of having a former client tell the world about how wonderful you are.
It's humbling when your client wants to tell everyone what a great job you did and why you were so great.
Credibility is the key.
That's why, when looking at testimonials, see if the lawyer includes the client's full name, their town and state.
This way, you'll know if they're real.
Also, does the lawyer include a photo, audio clip or video of the person giving the testimonial?
If not, ask yourself "Why not?"
But, I have a secret to share with you...
It's a secret I've been hesitant to share here on this page.
Before I do that, I want to share this testimonial from a grateful client. You'll understand why he's not on camera shortly.
Take a look...
Wasn't that a cool testimonial?
It was a heartfelt message that Arthur sent me and I wanted to share it here with you.
I was thrilled that I was able to help him transform his life.
Every day, injured patients call me asking for my help.
They thank me before I've even met them.
They thank me for educating them.
They thank me for my educational videos on my website and on YouTube.
They thank me for my free books.
For my articles.
For my free reports.
They thank me for chatting with them, even if I can't help them.
They thank me for explaining how the legal process works here in New York.
They don't understand why other attorneys are not as helpful.
They don't understand why other attorneys haven't created all these free books.
I have four books designed just for injured consumers.
They don't understand why other attorneys haven't created even a fraction of the number of videos I've created to help injured patients and consumers understand the legal process here in NY.
I will tell you that every one of my clients has thanked me profusely for helping them...even the ones we were not successful with.
Yes, it's true...even the ones we were not successful with.
You'd be hard pressed to find any other attorney in New York tell you about the cases they've lost. (Hopefully it's few and far between). But the reality is that every good lawyer has lost a case now and then. If they haven't, then they haven't tried many cases.
Why then are most attorneys in NY afraid to talk about those cases on their website or in their marketing messages?
I think it's fear.
I think they think that clients will think they're not a good attorney. (How's that for a tongue twister!)
Hugs and beautfiul thank you cards say it all.
But in your search for the right attorney, you want to read the reviews on Google+ or Yelp.
You've trusted those websites before.
They were spot on before.
Now you're looking at an attorney's Google+ reviews and wonder why there's only a few or maybe even none!
Now you're getting worried.
Now you're beginning to think maybe all is not well.
Your first thought might be "Why aren't there more testimonials by satisfied clients?"
Is it because he doesn't have satisfied clients?
Is it because he doesn't have a system of capturing a clients' glowing and grateful testimonies?
Or is it that his clients simply are afraid and worried about leaving a testimonial?
This last possibility foreshadows a problem most medical malpractice lawyers, criminal defense lawyers and DUI lawyers face daily.
Let me give you a great example...
Imagine you are arrested and convicted of driving while intoxicated.
You don't want anyone in your town to know.
You don't want your family to know.
You don't want your boss to know...it could destroy you professionally.
Assume that your attorney did a great job for you and you walk away with little or no jail time.
Imagine this testimonial...
"Hi, I'm Jim Bob and I got pulled over for DUI last year. Sure I'd had a few drinks after work...I mean, who hasn't, right? Anyway, while leaving the bar, I get pulled over for erratic driving. The cop said I was weaving back and forth and hit a few parked cars. I didn't remember that part but I do remember blowing into some machine. Next thing I know, I'm in handcuffs and being read my rights to remain silent. The next thing I remember is the judge telling me I was guilty of DUI. He was about ready to sentence me to a few years in jail when my lawyer begs and pleads for no jail time. I don't know what he did, but man is he good. If you get drunk and pulled over in this state, you need to call 'MYDrunkLawyer' to get you out of jail. He did it for me, I know he can do it for you."
The attorney then posts that quote on his website and the client leaves a similar review on Google+ and Yelp.
It's not going to happen.
Same thing if you were charged with a serious crime.
Do you really want your friends, family and co-workers to know?
Not a chance.
That's the problem with medical malpractice victims too.
They don't want their friends and family to know they've brought a lawsuit.
They don't want their friends and family to know they were successful and came into a great deal of money as a form of compensation for all the injuries they suffered.
They don't want people popping out of the woodwork seeking handouts and loans knowing that you can now afford to give them some money.
If they now give a testimonial for their attorney, who they truly believe was excellent in achieving this result, they will have to give their full name, the town and State they live in so the attorney can use that information to show other potential consumers that your testimonial is real and truthful.
Medical malpractice victims don't want to publicize their successful result.
They often want to resume their lives without any publicity or being in the spotlight.
Almost all of them are reluctant, in fact highly reluctant to give testimonials.
Every client I ask for a written or video testimonial tells me the same thing.
"Mr. Oginski, I loved you as my lawyer. You did a great job. I am so thankful, but I cannot give you a testimonial. I don't want my family to know. I don't want my co-workers to know. I don't want my friends and neighbors to know."
Clients that now live out of state tend to be more willing to give testimonials. There's less fear associated with being out-of-state and telling the world how your legal services help transform their lives.
The fact is I only represent people who suffered injury here in New York.
I cannot force or compel a satisfied client give me a testimonial.
Instead, I do remind them the best source of thanks they could provide would be to refer a friend or family member to me if they find themselves in a similar situation needing an attorney to help solve their legal problems.
That's why when you call my office, my receptionist will often ask "Can I ask who referred you today so we can thank them."
Another important observation you should know...
You'll find some attorneys have lots of testimonials and reviews and others don't.
When you read those online reviews, ask yourself WHO is writing it?
Is it from a satisfied client who has gone through litigation with this lawyer and been successful?
Is it from an attorney who referred someone to this attorney?
Is it someone they know only from Facebook or LinkedIn or some lawyer group where each attorney leaves a reciprocal review for each other?
Look at the substance of the review too.
Is the review from an actual client or just a telephone caller who had a good customer service experience on the phone?
When you speak to an attorney on the phone you might want to ask them why they don't have as many testimonials as you would expect to see from a successful firm.