Aside from implementing solid marketing and sales strategies—which you should already be doing—one of the most important ways to get new clients into your law firm is through attorney referrals. When another attorney in your network sends you a client, you’re starting out with two immediate advantages:
In other words, when you get an attorney referral, they’re coming in basically pre-sold on your services, and you’d have to go out of your way to do something foolish enough to scare them off. The real question, then, becomes: How do you get other attorneys motivated to send you referrals? The following tips should help.
Establish Relationships with Colleagues
Like so many other parts of business, client referrals come out of relationships—we refer people to others we know and trust. If other attorneys don’t know who you are or have never spoken with you, it won’t even occur to them to send you clients. Make sure you’re building a healthy network of colleagues. Attend local conferences and networking events where other attorneys hang out, and take advantage of every opportunity to socialize. Get to know your network and let them get to know you.
This basic concept follows the wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” If you want attorneys to send you clients, send them clients first. Obviously, not every person who seeks you out will be an ideal client for you, and some will simply need services outside your realm of expertise. Your goal should be never to turn away these clients without having somewhere else to refer them. Other attorneys who value these referrals from you will begin returning the favor.
Establish Collaborative/Joint Venture Partnerships
Another key strategy to build your attorney referrals is to establish collaborative partnerships with specific lawyers you know and trust—preferably attorneys who practice in different areas than you. Reach out and suggest a joint venture partnership where you agree to send each other referrals on a priority basis, perhaps even offering to share fees as an incentive. Once you’ve made several of these agreements, you’ll be on track to get a significant number of new clients from referrals—and because you’re doing the same, it’s a win-win for both.
The great thing about law practice is there really is room for everyone. Be generous with your own referrals, and be proactive with your collegial relationships, and watch your law firm thrive.