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.

How Google Authorship Can Help You Stand Out From The Competition

George Murphy, Owner at The Search Ninjas provided a guest post about Google Authorship.

Google, which is still the preferred search engine for 67% of the United States according to Comscore’s latest report, launched their Authorship program in early 2012 in an attempt to help users differentiate between trusted, reputable authors, and web spammers. Many Internet marketers (myself included) believe that the Authorship program will play a big role in the search engine giant’s ranking factors in the near future, and to plan for this, you’ll need to know more about Google Authorship and how to implement it on your website(s) and/or blog(s).

What is Google Authorship?

You know how, when you do a Google search for something like “Maryland DUI attorney” or “Los Angeles divorce lawyer”, you see a number of other lawyers’ pictures come up in the search results page?  Their pictures are being displayed because they’ve implemented Google Authorship into their website(s) or blog(s), and studies have confirmed that click through rates for webmasters who have implemented Google Authorship are much higher than those who haven’t.

How Do I Setup Google Authorship?

The best part about the Google Auhtorship program is that it doesn’t take a web “ninja” to figure out how to set it up. Here are a few resources that you can utilize to implement Google Authorship:

How to sign up for Google Authorship and link your Google+ profile to the content you create by Google

Rich Snippet Testing Tool to see if your website’s Authorship markup is working correctly by Google

Check Authoship impressions and clicks in Webmaster Tools by Google

A Few Quick Tips

    While you may be tempted to post more personal/laid back images of yourself on other social media profiles, you probably want to keep the suit on for Google+. Surveys have shown that law firms with more distinguished attorney pictures are preferred to the picture of you and the family on vacation.

    In the “contributor to” section of your Google+ profile, add a link to as many profiles as you can- your LinkedIn profile, Twitter profile, Facebook page, Superlawyers/ profile, etc- as it adds reputation to your Authorship efforts.

    If you use Wordpress for your website or blog, Yoast’s SEO Plugin will help you to easily implement Google+ Author markup.

Improved Search Engine and Overall Web Visibility

As you continue to:

    Add more content to your website, blog, and other websites through guest posting and contributions.

    Increase your reach on Google+ by following and interacting with others, posting regularly, joining and interacting with communities, and +1’ing other posts on a regular basis.

    Market your Google+ page in your newsletter, e-mail campaigns, and other social media profiles.

    Get added to more people’s circles on Google+ as a result of the above

The more trusted you will be in Google’s eyes and, as a result, the more visible you and your firm will be to search engine users and your target audience.

About the Author

George Murphy is the owner of The Search Ninjas, a Maryland-based web marketing company specializing in website design and SEO (search engine optimization) specifically for law firms and attorneys. George has been in legal web marketing for over 5 years and has worked with a number of law firms throughout the country and in a variety of practice areas. Find out more about their law firm SEO services or follow George on Google+.



The Results are in: Majority of Consumers Use Social Media When Searching for Attorneys

The Rainmaker Institute recently commissioned a survey by The Research Intelligence Group to find out how consumers use social media in their search for an attorney. Read about the details of the survey at Survey Says Majority of Consumers Use Social Media When Looking for Lawyers.



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.

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.

Another Reason Not to Advertise in the Yellow Pages

the yellow pages are dead law firm marketing legal marketingA California appeals court has reinstated a jury's $17.35 million damage award to more than 100,000 businesses and individuals who took out ads in Pacific Bell phone books that were delivered either late or not at all.

The Yellow Pages advertisers' money was wasted. 

Jurors awarded damages to advertisers in 66 of Pacific Bell's 163 directory service areas in the state, including the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, finding that the company had failed to use its "best efforts" to deliver the books as promised. In most cases, those were districts in which fewer than 94.5 percent of the directories arrived on time.

A Superior Court judge had overturned the verdict in June 2009 and dismissed the suit. But the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco overruled the judge on Tuesday and restored the verdict. The court said the advertisers had relied on a delivery verification survey by Pacific Bell's contractor, the nonprofit Certified Audit of Circulations, which offered the only data available.

The jury found that the plaintiffs "paid for advertising distribution services they did not receive," the court said, and they are entitled to compensation even if "precise proof of the amount of damage is not available."

The evidence, including admissions by phone company distribution managers, showed "ongoing, severe problems in delivering directories," said Presiding Justice Ignazio Ruvolo in the 3-0 ruling.

The suit was a class action on behalf of 380,000 advertisers in the yellow pages in California between 2002 and 2004. Plaintiffs' lawyer Michael Schrag said somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 would be eligible for damages in districts where the jury found inadequate deliveries.

If you haven't canceled your yellow pages ads yet, now is the time to do so.

King & Spalding Named as Firm with Best Law Firm Marketing Program

Kimberly Alford Rice, marketing the law firm, king & spalding, law firm marketing, legal marketing.The best law firm marketing program can be found at 800-lawyer King & Spalding, according to the new issue of the Marketing the Firm newsletter.

"Never before in the history of legal marketing have we seen such a powerful convergence of strategic marketing principles and today’s mind-blowing advancing technology. Social media, still in its infancy for most businesses (and definitely law firms), is coming into its own as a necessary component in the marketing mix. Blogging, tweeting, "linking in," and Facebooking have made their way into the law firm arena with a major blast," says an article by Kimberly Alford Rice, Wendy Stavinoha and Steven Salkin.

King & Spalding was named No. 1 in the seventh annual MLF 50 competition among law firms in marketing and business development. With the leadership of CMO Katherine D'Urso, King & Spalding has created:

  • A secure client extranet with 400 users averaging 5,000 unique log-ins per month and housing more than 1.25 terabytes of data.
  • Web-friendly URLs to optimize web pages for search engines. After a site optimization, organic search results jumped by 60%.
  • Firm events that are searchable by practice and industry, with relevant lawyer contacts. Clicking an icon adds the event to your calendar.
  • Free e-Learning webinars for clients, covering hot topics and offering CLE credit in many jurisdictions.
  • A mobile intranet accessible by BlackBerry, Android, iPad and iPhone devices.
  • QR codes in marketing materials.

Other law firms with top-listed marketing programs include:

  • McGuire Woods
  • Goulston & Storrs
  • K&L Gates
  • Goodwin Proctor

Law Firm Marketing Tip: How to Make Networking Events Work for You

Lawyer networking, law firm marketingNetworking works best if it is done with “marketing aforethought.”  Here’s your game plan for an effective networking event.

Where to Go

The best meetings for networking are the ones your clients and referral sources go to.  Every person in business belongs to a trade association.  Simply ask your clients what meetings they go to and suggest you join them.  At the meeting, have your client introduce you to others (who are prospective clients).  If anyone asks what you’re doing there, tell them you want to learn the industry better, to meet people and to ask questions. 

Bar association meetings can be a great source for referrals – if you’re a litigator and you attend bar meetings to meet transactional lawyers, or you can meet out-of-state lawyers who may call you when they have a matter in your city. 

Making a Plan of Action

Most lawyers erroneously think networking is shaking as many hands as possible and spreading out as many business cards as possible at an event.  This is incorrect.  You should go to an event with the aim of having one or two meaningful conversations – that’s it. 

A premeditated networker going to an event checks the membership or attendee list ahead of time, and highlights 3-5 people to meet.  That way he’s not walking into a huge room full of people he doesn’t know.  At the event, the networker asks the president to introduce him to a few of these targets.

Additional tips:

  • Come early to meetings and stand by the table where name tags are handed out.  Let everyone at the meeting see you are there. Say hello to everyone you know.
  • Have the staff working the desk identify the people you are looking for.
  • Pick out whom you’re going to sit with and put your purse/jacket across the chairs at the table.
  • Introduce yourself to the speakers and get their business cards; briefly chat them up about the topic they’re speaking on.  Do this at the front of the room so everybody can see you attended the meeting.   
  • If possible, bring a second person from your law firm to the meeting and have them do the same thing; be certain that you split up from the second person and sit at separate tables and talk to different people.

Starting a Conversation

...please click "Continue Reading" in the link below.

Starting a Conversation

People believe it’s hard to start a conversation with a stranger so they decide not to network.  However, it’s easy to start a conversation if you premeditatedly pick out the people you want to talk to and prepare five good questions in advance. For example:

1. What has changed since the last time we met?
2. How has that affected you?
3. How are you dealing with the XXXX issue in your industry?
4. How do you think that will affect you in the future?
5. What are the 2-3 things that absolutely MUST go right for you to have a good year?

If you’ve prepared in advance for specific target contacts, you can develop other intelligent questions, with the aim of inquiring into the target’s business “pain” and plans. 

So don’t talk about the weather or the movies; explore what’s important to the other person. Talk about their favorite topic: themselves. The idea is to get the person talking through good questions; if he’s talking, the networker is selling. If the contact has unmet needs, this creates an opportunity to meet again later.

Ordinarily, you shouldn’t ask a prospective client to handle their legal work on the very first meeting.  There is a courtship process and both parties need to get to know each other.  To use a dating analogy, a guy doesn’t ask a girl to marry him on the first date.


Get the business card of everyone you met and immediately write three things on the back:

1.  The date
2.  The place
3.  What you talked about.

As you leave the meeting, send a text message to the people you met, saying how nice it was to see them. If you write a blog, write a post about the meeting you went to. If you have a Twitter account, tweet about the best thing you got from the meeting. Use your PDA or smartphone to find a link to what you had a conversation about, email the link to the person you just met using your PDA.  All this can be done within the first hour after you met the person.

When you return to your office, immediately input this information into your Outlook Contacts – especially the “notes” box.  This is essential.  You can search Outlook, but you can’t search a wad of business cards with a rubber band around it in your desk drawer.

Follow-up with a “glad to meet you” email, and point them to a link of useful information.  Then add them to your mailing lists and make sure you send them a relevant newsletter, e-alert or research findings on a regular basis.  Make it worthwhile for the other person to stay in touch with you.   If you’ve met someone who has described an unmet need, you should set up a face-to-face meeting or conference call with your contact, have them invite the decision-maker to join you, and focus on their “pain” and how you can solve it.

Use the power of online social networks as you proceed.  For professionals, only one network is really worthy: LinkedIn.  You can safely ignore invitations from people on other networks. Approximately 78% of lawyers have a LinkedIn profile, but don’t do anything with it.  Invite the event speaker and the people you met to connect with you.  Every time you talk to a reporter, invite them into your network.  Every now and then, send a “question” to all your contacts – asking about new research you found, or the organization where you met, or points raised by the speaker.

By planning ahead and picking the people you want to meet in advance, you can develop new, and deepen existing, relationships – which are ultimately the best source of new business.

AZ State Bar Webcast: "Surviving the Recession"

Arizona State Bar, surviving the recession, law firm marketingPlease join me for this 90-minute webinar and live presentation sponsored by the State Bar of Arizona on May 6 in Phoenix and online too.  Visit WEBCAST- Surviving the Recession for all the details. Any lawyer in any state can attend. The course has been approved for 1.5 total CLE Units, all of which may be applied toward  Ethics.

I gave the program last year and here's what attendees had to say:

  • "The program is one of the most interesting that I have viewed online. Thank you." (Phoenix, AZ)
  • "This is absolutely amazingly well done. Critical thinking, clear language, practical: an excellent resource." (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • "This guy''s terrific. Can I buy a video?" (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • "Very interesting and I believe it will be helpful to my business." (Mesa, AZ)
  • "Excellent presentation! I like the fact that it was available online, especially since I needed 3 more credits by today!" (Scottsdale, AZ)

"Partners, law firm owners, solo and small firm practitioners who wish to avoid being victims of the worst economic downturn in our lifetimes should attend this special seminar. Hear from a 16-year veteran business developer on how to increase your clientele and revenue," the bar brochure states.

Program highlights:

  • The four hot practice areas for general practitioners.
  • How to keep the good clients you have.
  • In-person marketing and business development techniques to find new clients.
  • Marketing with technology tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Webinars and blogs.
  • Writing your Personal Business Development Plan.

How can you go wrong with a $69 registration fee?  If you want to get more cleints and generate more revenue, I hope to see you there.