Lawyers spend a lot of money on advertising and marketing in an attempt to get their names out there and obtain clients, but one of the best ways to make your practice flourish is through systematic cultivation of referral sources.
First, map out a strategic plan to capitalize on referrals from other lawyers by asking yourself these questions:
- What kinds of lawyers are most likely to have clients who need my help?
- What bar sections and organizations do those lawyers belong to?
- What can I do to get face time with those lawyers?
- How can I help the attorneys I want to help me?
- What ways can I stay in touch with other lawyers in order to build relationships?
- When should I ask for their referrals?
- What should I say?
Also, devise strategies for turning happy clients into referral sources. Consider this self-inquiry:
- Which past and current clients are most likely to recommend my services?
- When is the best time to seek their help? (Immediately after a successful outcome!)
- Should I arrange a meeting, speak by phone or write an email asking to meet with them?
- What should I say when making The Ask?
The Best Referral Sources
The first and most logical way to obtain referrals is through doing great work and asking satisfied clients to refer you to their family and friends. A recommendation from a client who knows your work, has experienced the professionalism of your staff, and has paid a reasonable fee for a successful outcome is the most persuasive referral source.
Most people want to have some insight about a lawyer’s abilities and personalities before they are comfortable enough to contact him. Getting this validation from someone who knows and trusts the lawyer based on personal experience provides the right level of comfort a client needs to pick up the phone and set an appointment.
How to Impress Referring Attorneys
You are most likely to get consistent referrals from other lawyers if you are board certified in a particular area of the law which your referral sources do not practice. The fact that you have the depth of experience and the breadth of knowledge to obtain a certification is a validation of your expertise in the eyes of attorneys who can refer business to you. Your certification assures other lawyers that their clients will be in good hands if you handle their cases. Bottom line: Do what it takes to get board certified.
Absent board certification, the best sources of business are often lawyers whom you have opposed in other cases and who have personally observed you in action and the way you handle clients under stress. Treating lawyers on the other side of the docket with courtesy and respect is not only the right thing to do, it is a prerequisite to future referrals.
Reciprocity Keeps Referrals Flowing
Receiving referrals is a demonstration of respect for your work, but it is also an act of generosity. Since lawyers have numerous choices when deciding which attorney to enrich with referrals, they naturally are inclined to continue sending referrals to lawyers who show their gratitude by giving referrals back. If that is not possible, you can reciprocate in other ways such as sending them quality thank you gifts, inviting them to speak in front of groups containing their ideal prospects, giving them complimentary tickets to sports events or art openings, and giving free legal advice when they seek it. Showing gratitude in ways that the referring lawyer appreciates likely ensures continuing referrals for you.