A Guide for Attorneys: How-To Get Referrals
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Summary: A guide on how to get business referrals. 

One key to business is referrals. Whether it’s to get new clients or to find new attorneys to work with, word-of-mouth is more powerful than any cold call. This is especially true for small firm attorneys as they do not have a big firm brand that is easily recognized by strangers. Ask any solo practitioner where the majority of their clients come from, and they’ll tell you it was a referral.


“Selling legal services is all about relationship building,” Stephen Seckler of BCG Attorney Search said. “Since legal consumers hire attorneys who they trust (either directly or because someone they trust has made a referral), it is not difficult to see that building relationships is the best way to build a law practice.”

But how can you get referrals without seeming pushy? The following is a list of easy tips to bring some positive word-of-mouth your way.

1. Be great at your job. 

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People looking for an attorney aren’t looking for a nice guy. They’re looking for whoever will protect them or get them the most money. That’s why the number one thing to do when looking to get referred is to just be a superstar.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re nice or not. Competence is No. 1,” family law attorney Kelly Chang Rickert told ABA Journal. “I’d want them to say, ‘She’s very good with you and has a good bedside manner.’ But the best referral would be: ‘She kicked butt. She might be a little expensive, but she’s worth it.’ ”

2. Make referrals yourself.

Making referrals to non-legal businesses and law firms is a great way to bring business back to you. Think of it as you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Or better yet–spreading good karma. Seckler said that telling people where to find the best accountant or computer guy will show you are resourceful and the company you brought business to will remember your name for helping them out.

3. Build relationships.

The more people in your professional and personal network, the more chances you have of getting referred. While relationships cannot be forced (trying to do so will make you look sleazy), there are etiquette moves that you can make to build new relationships or strengthen old ones. For instance, after serving a client, you can send them a thank you note. You can reach out to fellow lawyers with congratulatory emails when you read about them in the news. You an email articles to people with useful information. Small but thoughtful actions build up with time, and people will remember you in a positive light.

Besides meeting people you have already worked with or for, you can attend networking events, volunteer for charities, interact through social media, or throw parties.

4. Ask your clients.

If you do an awesome job, many clients will end up telling their friends anyway. However, some people still need an additional reminder to spread your name, but it’s best to do it in a tactful manner.

“Just remind your clients frequently that you value their business, that your business is built on word-of-mouth, and that you want to work with more people who are just like them,” Aaron George of Lexicata said. “That way, they feel appreciated, and you will be top-of-mind whenever someone they know asks them about a lawyer.”

5. Be proactive. 

Word-of-mouth spreads naturally, but if you rely on just the organic-ness, then you could be waiting for a long time. That’s why it’s a good idea to take steps to stay in your friends, associates, and clients’ minds. Solo practitioner Lisa Solomon told ABA Journal that she sends out a monthly newsletter to clients and professionals. This way, her network remembers her and also is reminded what her speciality is and what kind of referrals she is looking for.

How do you get referrals? Let us know in the comments below!



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