If your law firm wants to get more clients fast, you need to look for referral partners. The truth is potential clients in your community are currently reaching out to lawyers who don't handle their cases, and your law firm may be the perfect fit. Unfortunately, most law firms just refer those cases to the local bar referral hotline. Occasionally, they have a person they refer work to, but it is surprisingly rare outside of a close friend.
What should you look for? There are two main types of referrals. First, your referrals should be other lawyers in the community who handle cases that are similar to yours. Second, your referrals should be related to businesses and community leaders. These referrals may not be lawyers themselves, but they have access to a large library of people with legal problems.
Hopefully, you realize that you don't need to limit yourself in who you can approach for referrals.
Self-limiting beliefs about referrals are a guaranteed way to choke off this important segment of clients. Consider that most lawyers think, Well, I'm sure lawyers already have referral partners for my type of case. If so many lawyers believe this, it means there is a gap in the market. What is the gap? Simply asking to start a relationship! It's funny how such a simple strategy could live right in plain sight.
7 Ways to Find Referrals for a Law Firm:
1. Look at the local bar association directory and search "adjacent" practice areas, such as estate planning and family law (new planning documents after a divorce) or personal injury and workers comp (in states with third party injury claims). There is a chance someone has clients who would be natural fits for your practice area. What practice areas are adjacent to you? Once you identify 10-25 targets, start reaching out proactively. Your job is to build a relationship, and you will need to be persistent.
2. Find referral partners in the area that you can help out outside of referring them cases and then send them an email or letter with an offer you think they could use. How about providing them with a video shoot or hosting them on your podcast? You just need to do something of benefit to them.
3. Find referrals through referrals! That's right – referrals can lead to referrals, which leads to referrals. If you know a client has a problem you cannot handle, refer them to someone else who does handle it and follow up with that other lawyer or professional. Sending a surprise referral out can be the best way to prove you are a good partner.
4. Look for referrals in community groups. Most groups have members who naturally share some ties. There will be business owners, professionals, and social influencers (people with lots of friends). If you can present your law firm as a resource for these people, you might get referrals even before they need legal help.
5. Keep referrals flowing. The best referrals come from people who like you and trust you. Therefore, continue to nurture those referrals even after a case has been referred out. Thank them for their referrals and offer other things that might be helpful in the future - go back to #2 and consider what your next offer can be.
6. Look at your competition. Chances are good that they have referrals relationships going on right this minute. If they do, ask them if their referrals come from a particular type of business or profession. Follow the trail and you may find referrals that were hiding in plain sight!
7. Remember referrals can happen anytime – not just at the end of a case. Create a referral culture around your practice, and you'll find that referrals just start coming your way. Maybe it's metaphysical... or maybe it's just that people start associating you with referrals and are more likely to proactively refer to you.