Identifying Hidden Referral Sources

In order to maximize the number of referrals you receive, you should understand where the referrals came from.  Stephen Fairley at The Rainmaker Blog, recommends ways to identify hidden referral sources.

Too often, attorneys sign a new client without having a true understanding of how that client came to them. 

How can you repeat your successes if you don’t know what you’re doing right?

If you start examining the ways that new clients come to you, you will begin to reveal referral sources you didn’t even know you had.

Here are some tips for discovery:

Whenever someone calls to inquire about your services, have whoever handles the call ask how they found your firm. If they say on the Internet, ask what search terms they used. If they say they saw an ad, ask where. If they say they were referred, ask by whom (and be sure you follow up with that referral source to thank them promptly!).

Create a spreadsheet so you can track how prospects find you. The idea is for you to be able to tell at a glance what law firm marketing method is bringing you the most leads.

Track how many times you “touch” each lead before they become a client, and what methods you used to keep in touch.

Examine the data for which activities you are currently doing that result in the best quality leads, and which ones are bringing in prospects that are not a good fit for you.

Track costs and how much time you are spending for each of your law firm marketing activities so you can determine your ROI for each activity. 

Have your clients provide feedback on your services – likes, dislikes and be sure to ask if they feel good about referring you to friends and family.


Once you are able to tell what you’re doing right, you can then put your resources to work in areas that bring you the best quality leads.

Read the post at it's source here.


Myths Attorneys Believe About Referrals

Another guest post from Stephen Fairley at The Rainmaker Institute.



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.



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.

Other legal professionals are not the only people who make great referral sources. Non-legal professionals who target a similar clientele are often your best sources of referrals. Use LinkedIn to find these people, make the connection online and then send them an email or call them for an invitation to lunch or coffee.


Over the last 12 years of helping legal professionals grow their referral base, we have found that formal networking events (like trade shows and chambers of commerce, etc) work exceptionally well for a very small group of attorneys-and not at all for the majority of attorneys. There are a few reasons why:


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.

2. Most attorneys don't know how to network properly and so it becomes a game to see how many business cards they can pass out in 2 hours. Networking is more about quality than quantity. The purpose of attending a networking event is to connect with someone whom you can later invite to meet with you one-on-one.

3. Attorneys do not create a plan for following up in a timely manner. You have about 48 hours after an event to follow up with a "hot lead" or they will likely forget about you. Get in touch with them right away and ask if they want to meet for lunch. Prove that you listened to what they were talking about by telling them you would like to continue your conversation about their practice. Actively listening to what their practice goals are and then introducing them to people who may need their help or may be a good contact for them will help you create a solid base of referral partners.



Building a referral-based law firm does not happen by accident. If you want to take your legal marketing to the next level, you need a systematic approach to developing more and better relationships with a wide variety of referral sources.

A key component of your referral plan is to create systems for staying connecting with prospects, clients and referral partners on a regular, consistent basis. Part of this system should include:

  • Monthly newsletters - keep them apprised of what your firm is doing, new employees, new practice areas, and content that is beneficial to them.

  • Annual Client Satisfaction Survey - find out what your clients think about the services they have received from your firm and how you can improve.

  • Keep In Touch letters - on a regular basis, every 2-3 months, send a letter to referrals, prospects and clients just to touch base. This top of mind awareness is crucial for generating referrals.

  • Referral Education System - your referral sources need to know what kind of prospects you are looking for. It does no good for them to refer prospects to you who are not looking for what your firm offers. Keep your referral sources updated on your practice areas and any changes in your firm if you want to receive high-quality referrals.

LegalTechNY Discussion: Professional vs. Personal Uses of Social Media [video]

Today's post is pulled from the Law Firm Marketing Blog of LexisNexis.  It features a portion of the LegalTechNY Panel Discussion I participated in. Here is the link to the original post.

Most of us live in two worlds — one consists of our personal relationships with friends and family, the other is made up of our professional interactions with clients and co-workers. It can be very tricky to keep these worlds separate in the online world where comments and images are so easily disseminated.

Steve Mann, chief marketing officer of the Research & Litigation Solutions business at LexisNexis, was asked this "professional vs. personal" question by an attendee at our LegalTech New York 2013 panel — "Taming the Wild West of Social Media: The Secrets of Social Media Success in the Legal Profession" — and the responses from our experts were instructive.

I drew a distinction between personal and professional uses of social media. If someone looks me up on social media platforms, they will see lots of content about lawyers and law firm marketing — but you're not going to know what I had for lunch.

Stephen Fairley, chief executive officer of The Rainmaker Institute, agreed with me but noted there are some ways to separate your social media use. For example, he pointed out that lawyers might have a "profile" page on Facebook that is set to private and only used for personal interactions with friends and family, then have a separate "fan" page on Facebook that is set to public and is used for professional interactions with clients and business associates.

You can view a short video segment of this piece of the panel discussion. Stay tuned next week for more details from the session.


LegalTechNY Discussion: Barriers to Social Media Adoption

At LegalTechNY, Steve Mann, chief marketing officer of the Research & Litigation Solutions business at LexisNexis, posed this question to Stephen Fairley, chief executive officer of The Rainmaker Institute and myself: If we have passed the tipping point for firms to use social media, why are so many firms reluctant to dive in?



Feel Embarrassed When Asking for a Referral?

Stephen Fairley offers a way to beat embarrassment you may feel when asking for referrals.

We know that many attorneys build a good portion of their practices on referrals – yet, why is it so many feel embarrassed to ask for a referral?

I believe that these attorneys are not looking at referrals in the right way. They see them as asking for a favor, when in fact you should regard it as extending a favor. That’s right. You are not asking to get a favor, you are asking to bestow one.
The secret to getting lots of referrals is to make it about them, not about you. Think about what benefits you offer your referral sources and what problems you may help them solve. When you help someone help a friend, family member or colleague, you have done them a favor. 
Think about how referring you can make your client’s life better, and you will never be embarrassed to ask for a referral again. 
Attorneys who rely on referrals for new clients also have to have a referral mindset. Always look for those moments in your relationships with others to create referrals – when you have won a case for a client, when you have helped someone avoid litigation, when you have provided a referral – all opportunities for you to generate referrals.
You also need to make it as easy as possible for people to refer you. Provide them with a written document that outlines the characteristics of your ideal client. Create white papers or give seminars that solve problems their clients may be experiencing and co-brand them, so your referral source benefits. 
The real secret to feeling comfortable about generating referrals is to think give, not take. And to implement a system that creates a referral environment throughout your organization.


Shhh! The #1 Secret to Boosting Client Referrals

Stephen Fairley shares with us the #1 secret to boosting client referrals and retention in this blog post that can found on the Rainmaker Blog.

When it comes to communicating with clients, listening is often more important than talking. It is by listening that you learn what clients want, and then you can give it to them. Which makes for more referrals and better client retention.

Here are some important methods you can use to actively listen to clients:
Open feedback. Always offer clients a way to provide feedback, through your website, an online survey and in your e-newsletter campaign. Simply asking for their thoughts is often enough to garner some important insights.
Transactional feedback. If you’re a regular Starbucks customer, you have undoubtedly received a free survey at some point with your receipt. You provide them with some feedback online and you get a free drink for your efforts. What attorneys can learn from this is the importance of asking clients for their thoughts about their experience with your firm after the case is over or at important points along the way. Keep your finger on the pulse of how satisfied they are with how your firm is treating them, and you’ll have a satisfied client.
Social media interaction. Monitor your social media channels to see what people are saying about you. You can search for your firm name on Twitter and Facebook , and you should be regularly monitoring Avvo, FindLaw, Yelp and Google for other comments about your firm.
Client satisfaction surveys. Using formal client satisfaction surveys is another good way to gauge client experiences with your firm. Send one out after each engagement is closed and respond immediately and personally to any negative feedback.

Tomorrow(!) LexisNexis Marketing Experts to Host LegalTech Social Media Panel

Leading experts in law firm marketing from LexisNexis® will be among the participants in a featured panel at LegalTech New York 2013, the number-one annual legal technology event in the world.

The session, "Taming the Wild West of Social Media: The Secrets of Social Media Success in the Legal Profession," will be held on Tuesday, January 29, from 2:00 to 3:15 PM at the Hilton New York in midtown Manhattan.

The panelists for the session are:

  • Larry Bodine, Esq., editor in chief of Lawyers.comSM®;
  • Steve Mann, chief marketing officer of LexisNexis; and
  • Stephen Fairley, chief executive officer of The Rainmaker Institute.

While it may seem like the Wild West at times, social media does in fact have a very real role to play in both the business and practice of law. According to the 2012 Attorney Selection Research Study by The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG), 26 percent of American consumers used one of the major social media sites when gathering information about a legal issue and more than one in five (22 percent) said they turned to a social media site to actually find a lawyer they felt might be able to help them with their legal need.

The LegalTech panel discussion will explore:

  1. The state of social media in the legal industry today and an update to guide attendees through the year ahead;
  2. New and improved social media best practices in specific online channels (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging, etc.); and
  3. The various ethical and legal considerations about which law firms must be aware, including an update of key decisions and guidance issued by various state bar associations.

CLE credits are available — up to 1.5 general CLE credits depending on the state. 

If you can't make it to LegalTech feel free to ask questions, comment or just follow us on Twitter using #LNsocial.

How to Realize Your Dream of a More Profitable Law Practice in 2013

On Monday, Stephen Fairley of the Rainmaker Blog, wrote about his next webinar that is to be held tomorrow, January 24th at 1 p.m. ET.  Read on to learn how you can register for this webinar that will provide ways to bring your dream law practice into reality.


Today we’re celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and I know that many of you have a dream, too...a dream of building a law firm that allows you to live the life you’ve always wanted to live while doing satisfying work that you enjoy.

The question plaguing most of you is, how?

Start by signing up for my webinar this Thursday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT: The 5 Best Strategies to Beat Your Competition in 2013.

Knowing which legal marketing strategies are working in today’s economy gives you a huge advantage. Implementing the correct business development strategies allows you to spend less money and get better results faster!

Join me on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT for a one-hour webinar where you will discover:

  • Why you can’t afford to dismiss social media any longer (Google is forcing you to use it)
  • 3 major ways to triple your website traffic in the next 90 days
  • How to use online tools to generate more offline referrals
  • 3 keys all the best law firms are using to turn more website browsers into buyers
  • 2 critical numbers you must track every month to measure your success
  • Specific ways to jump-start your marketing efforts fast…even if you’ve stumbled before
  • Last year many of our clients experienced their best year ever! How is that possible when we are in the midst of the biggest recession our generation has ever faced?

It’s simple, they developed a game plan based on best practices and proven strategies and then they consistently took massive action! Notice I said it was “simple” not “easy.” There is no “easy” way to build a million dollar book of business, but if you’re willing to do the work we can show you the right path to take.

Click on this link  to register now for The 5 Best Strategies to Beat Your Competition in 2013 webinar on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.

All registrants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch at their convenience, so if the scheduled time doesn’t work for you, you can still get this critical knowledge by getting your own copy of the webinar recording.


Dec. 13 Webinar: How to Leverage Your Firm's Website to Win Clients

According to recent research…

58 million adults looked for an attorney in the past year
76% of them referred to the Internet at some point in their search
While most law firms already have a website, the majority of them don’t produce new cases on a regular basis. Why?
Because they are doing it all wrong!
This live webinar – scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET -- will teach you how to do it right.
Having a website is no longer enough to generate new clients. You also need to harness the power of key online strategies including social media, directories and blogs.
What you really need is a website that converts prospects into paying clients, convinces skeptics to call you first, and turns browsers into buyers!
In this fast-paced webinar, I will join Stephen Fairley, CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, and we will teach you:
  • 3 specific strategies that can immediately improve your website conversions
  • What elements you should and should not include on your website
  • How to effectively reach the 65% of consumers who like to gather information about their legal issue long before ever contacting an attorney
  • Ways to leverage top online attorney directories to control your online presence
  • Case studies on how top attorneys are using social media to attract more paying clients
  • Best practices for blogging and why Google loves them so much
  • The fastest ways to get to the top of Google
If you already have a website, but you’re frustrated because you are not consistently getting new cases from it, then you owe it to yourself to listen in on this webinar.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there.
If you’re tired of listening to hype and want to learn from nationally recognized experts who have been in the trenches, then we invite you to join us.
Time doesn’t work for you? All registrants will receive a recording of this webinar to watch at their convenience. 
Click on this link to register now for the How to Leverage Your Firm’s Website to Win Clients webinar on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET.

Business Development with Social Media

In the webinar excerpt "Top Four Reasons Why Social Media Matters," I join Stephen Fairley, CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, to describe how lawyers can generate new business with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

There's a huge online conversation among consumers about legal issues. You can be part of the conversation, or you can miss it and the business that goes with it.

Stephen and I outline four reasons that social media works for lawyers:

  1. It is one of the most cost-effective means of building your platform.
  2. It will increase traffic to your website.
  3. It will influence buying decisions by your potential clients.
  4. It connects you to referral sources.

"The holy grail of your marketing is to build your word-of-mouth referrals," Stephen says. "Social media gives you a way to build a massive platform rather rapidly and is one of the most cost-effective ways to do so."

To get a free Social Media Evaluation, contact a LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing Specialist.

Blogs and social media are also an effective way to boost traffic you your website. "The two things Google loves are fresh, relevant content and inbound links," notes Stephen. "The more links you have to your website the better Google will reward you by pushing you to the top of search engine results."

To get a free Website Evaluation and Consultation, contact a LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing Specialist.

Social media is so prevalent now that it influences consumer buying decisions. "If you start adding things up, you can see that social media has the ability to influence thousands and thousands of people. If the average person on Facebook has 130 friends, if you can get your Facebook fan page to over 500 connections, you have the ability to influence 65,000 people," Stephen says.

"Does social media work? That is the wrong question," he says. "The right question is, which social network will work best for my practice area?" He quoted from a survey by Hubspot:

  • Is your end client a business, a CEO or an executive of a company?  If yes, you are a business-to-business firm.Business-to-business firms — over 45% — say that the No. 1 source of acquiring a customer was from LinkedIn.
  • Is your end client a consumer?  If yes, you are a business-to-consumer firm.  Business-to-consumer firms — 68% — say they had acquired a new client from Facebook.

LinkedIn is a fantastic place to develop referral sources. One of the things that lawyers enjoy about LinkedIn is the ability to join a group. When you belong to a LinkedIn group, you can meet lawyers and referral sources online and then connect with them in person.

"Top Four Reasons Why Social Media Matters" is an excerpt from the LexisNexis webinar "Join the Conversation: Social Media Strategies for Your Law Firm." View additional LexisNexis webinars for the latest insights and best practices in online marketing for law firms.