Posted by Peter
on November 08, 2011
I was recently referred a great client from a law school classmate. Without getting too specific basically it’s a guardianship estate for an affluent elderly woman. There’s nothing particularly contested it’s just a matter of some regular client counseling and preparing the various annual reports for the court that are required in guardianship cases. And in a rather short period of time I’ve been able to clean-up the case which I took over from another attorney. The previous lawyer had not been doing quality work and frankly he had been bilking a wealthy client while accomplishing little. This case really got me thinking about how I should be handling the lawyer referrals I’m in a position to make.
Because I can be a TON more valuable to my clients if I have a specific and vetted group of attorneys to refer business too. I’ve surely passed referrals over the last 9 years of my legal career but I haven’t done it right. Too often I’ve passed a phone number on that I got from another person without knowing anything about the individual to whom I was passing the referral. That method might be a half step above just sending a person to the Yellow Pages but it’s not much better.
Being a great REFERRER will allow me to:
- Serve my clients better;
- Bring more value and better service to my clients;
- Generate business for myself and other lawyers.
I am a vetted referral source for the law school friend I mention in paragraph 1 and that friend has referred thousands of dollars in legal work to me over the years. Do you really think that the client this guy referred to me above isn’t going to get absolute A+ service from my Firm? Because it’s not just about her it’s about not letting my referral source down as well. It’s sort of like 10x just the regular old, single client.
And that’s what I want to start doing immediately for my clientele:
Provide vetted lawyer referral sources that will allow them to receive A+ legal services.
Basically I’m motivated to serve my clients better plus I’ve been honing my niche more narrowly with RJon Robins’ help. What do I do? I’m a pro-marriage and pro-family divorce lawyer. So that’s all I’m doing: Cook County divorce and paternity matters because family relationships don’t end just because a marriage/relationship does. And, because family break-up shouldn’t destroy lives. And far too many litigants and children are screwed-up for life because of stupid, anti-family choices their divorce lawyer made. Not me.
So if you’re in my niche…I want your referrals! But for everyone else I want to know you better and really ‘vet’ you and get to know you well so that my client’s are benefiting big time from your A+ legal services. Lets do lunch. You know where to find me (leave a comment, Facebook, @soloinchicago, email@example.com). Specific practice area requests to come but if you know my niche you probably know some of the referral areas I need a LOT of right now.
Posted by Peter
on October 13, 2011
Question: What has been my most valuable source of client referrals?
Answer: My law school classmates.
I have very fond memories of law school. Do you? It wasn’t quite as fun as undergrad but many of the things that made college fun also applied to law school…sort of a care free time in life, spending time around a peer group of a similar age/interests, and it was intellectually stimulating. That’s my dominant law school memory. But I do also recall it being a pretty small ‘fishbowl’ like existence. Even at huge, state universities law schools aren’t too large. There were roughly 110 people in my graduating class, far less than even my high school. And there always seemed to be some gossip and just nasty treatment of people occurring. Personally I never saw the value in mistreating or being unkind to others simply as a life ethos…there’s a right and wrong way to treat people. Yet it was definitely part of the law school life for whatever reason.
But if you’re in law school, don’t be a jerk! It might be costly later on.
Is there a more naturally captive and potentially profitable source of business for you than the 100-200 persons whom you graduated law school with, know you well, likely practice law in the same state as you, are in position to refer business to you, but also include enough practice area and geographic diversity so that there’s business to go around and opportunities for reciprocity??
If you’re currently in law school…develop great friendships and supportive relationships now. It will payoff later.
If you’re out of school you need to engage this group immediately before too much time has past, plus it’s easy to do. Surely you have a class picture or graduation program with a list of your graduating class and most alumni associations have a pretty good alumni directory on the Internet these days. If you’re thinking about starting a practice your law school classmates should definitely be on that initial announcement mailing list. I’d suggest for most of us this is a small enough group that a spreadsheet with each classmate, contact information, and their practice areas should be maintained. And then treat these persons like any VIP referral sources…get them on your newsletter mailing list, wine and dine, simply all the personal touches that show them you care.
Posted by Peter
on January 14, 2010
The general step is to position yourself as a sort-of “Go To” source for your clients, former clients, and colleagues for all types of legal/professional advice and referrals. The simple, specific action step is to keep an ever-expanding attorney (and general professional) referral list for lawyers outside your region and outside your practice areas.
Then develop the client trust and make sure people know that all of their legal/business/financial questions should start with a call to you and then big things happen like this…
First, you encourage greater client contact and client conversation. Even if this call serves only as a referral to someone else your relationship with the client is improved and your advice is deemed more valuable. Plus, this additional client conversation allows for you to probe the situation and new legal work is often discovered.
Second, you get to know the other professionals on your referral list and you often might find yourself creating some productive referral sources back-to-you. I know of a couple established firms where I’m on their referral lists and it’s great for me. Other professionals, a lawyer’s best client source.
So get to know some other lawyers, start keeping a referral list of lawyers by geographic/practice area, then communicate your “resource” to clients and lawyers alike and….
REAP THE BENEFITS!
Posted by Peter
on November 11, 2009
At least in my practice areas there’s nothing more valuable to me than a good referral source. Typically for me good referral sources tend to be other attorneys who either don’t practice in Cook County or more local attorneys who practice in different subject matter than myself or the general “other professionals” particularly financial professionals needing estate planning-probate help or even a local pastor has called me about some family law matters of late. Quite frankly, this subject of good referral sources is the best reason going why you should try to be as respectful and kind to opposing lawyers and/clients…those people are potential future referral sources.
If you’re the recipient of referrals you ought to treat your referral sources right!
I was thinking about this enough to share a little nugget here because I’ve referred several matters to attorneys lately in some fields that I don’t work in…namely criminal and employment law. And I haven’t heard a peep from the attorneys I referred clients to. I’m guessing the matters I referred out aren’t huge $$$ cases but really I’m not sure (I guess if they were big money cases I may have sought a referral fee). Yet they were real, paying clients (of mine) that might turn into who knows what for the second lawyer.
I would suggest at a minimum upon receiving a client referral from another attorney you acknowledge the referral contacted you and simply express thanks to the referral source via a phone call or e-mail. Second, follow-up with the referral source periodically about the client or minimally at the conclusion of the matter to tell the referral source what great work you did for the client (the client is likely the referral source’s client too). You might take the person out to lunch or out for golf or something too. But I think the first couple points are the bare minimum.
Because now I’m a tad hesitant to refer cases to a couple lawyers I referred cases to recently ’cause I’ve heard nothing about the client matters.
Do YOU want referrals?