MYTH #1: CLIENTS MAKE THE BEST REFERRAL SOURCES
Clients are generally not the best source of referrals to your law firm. This surprises a lot of legal professionals when I tell them this is a myth. Clients are merely the most obvious source of referrals, not the best source.
There are simply too many variables you cannot control when trying to get more referrals from clients:
- Do they know all the different services you offer?
- Will they remember you when they meet someone who needs your legal services?
- Can they accurately tell others what makes you different from your competitors?
- Did they hire you to resolve a legal issue that could be potentially embarrassing to them?
- Was their entire experience with your law firm positive or were there some "issues"?
The truth of the matter is that clients are not dependable. That being said, you shouldn't intentionally ignore potential client referrals. Every law firm should have a long-term client education plan that positions your law firm, explains your current services, and keeps your current clients informed as to what's going on in your firm.
One of the most cost effective ways to do this is with a monthly newsletter. Our clients consistently tell us sending out an electronic newsletter every month is one of the best ways to keep their firm in front of their potential referral sources.
MYTH #2: MOST REFERRALS COME FROM OTHER ATTORNEYS
This is another commonly held myth among attorneys. According to industry research, only about 25% of an established attorney's practice is referred from other legal professionals, so logically about 75% of clients come from other sources (this may vary greatly by practice area).
A good tip is to set up an easy tracking system as part of your client intake file and then review on a quarterly basis where your leads are coming from.
There are three keys to increasing referrals from other attorneys:
1. Do not try to be a generalist. The fastest way to lose referrals from other attorneys is by practicing several different kinds of law. In fact, every practice area you add over your primary one will cost you many referrals over time.
For example, if most of your practice is transactional business law and occasionally you take a litigation matter for an existing client, but you tell other attorneys you also do litigation, every litigation attorney now sees you as a competitor not a referral source.
2. Actively build relationships with at least 5 or 6 new referral sources each year (I know, easier said than done), but the best way to have your practice "crash and burn" is to totally rely on a handful of referral sources. As the saying goes, "it's not a matter of if, but when" one or more of those referral sources will dry up.
3. Keep in touch with them on a consistent basis, at least 5 to 10 times per year. This can be a combination of emails, LinkedIn or Facebook comments, newsletters, phone calls, small thank you gifts, and in person quarterly visits. If you want to build a thriving network of attorney referral sources you must be prepared to go out of your way to generate referrals for them as well.
MYTH #3: NETWORKING GROUPS MAKE GREAT REFERRAL SOURCES
1. They attend the wrong kind of group-one filled with their peers, not their prospects. I recommend joining your local bar association, but not for the purpose of gaining new business. You are much better off targeting an industry trade group filled with your perfect clients or best referral sources, not your competitors.