United States: Ramp Up Your Referrals: How To Take An Active Role In Generating New Business

Referrals are typically the leading producer of new business for law firms. In other words, referrals mean revenue. Coming as they do from third parties, referrals might seem to be out of your control; however, you can actually take an active role in generating more referrals. Several steps in particular can pay off when practiced regularly.

Do Good Work

The best way to generate referrals is to provide a strong work product. Satisfied clients who can personally attest to your work quality give the most credible referrals.

However, it is important to realize that "good work" extends beyond merely achieving the desired outcome in a matter. It also includes superior customer service. If you do not respond promptly to client inquiries or keep your clients up to date, they may not recommend you, possibly because they fear your poor customer service will reflect negatively on them. Attention to details can mean a lot to your clients and, in turn, affect referral volume.

Ask Clients for Recommendations

Get in the habit of asking your clients for referrals at appropriate junctures — when you are conducting intake, receiving compliments on your work or concluding a matter. Also, include a referral request in your e-mail signature line, such as "We always appreciate referrals."

Why do this? Won't clients naturally send business your way if they are pleased with your work? Not necessarily. It might not even occur to many clients that you are continually looking for new business, especially if they have visited your bustling law offices. That is why it never hurts to remind them that you value their business and would love the opportunity to work with other clients like them.

When you request referrals from clients, be specific and clear. By explaining the type of work you are looking for (for example, divorce cases or individual bankruptcy proceedings), you are less likely to receive referrals you cannot use. Also, provide clients with business cards that they can share with potential referrals.

Network Smart

Every attorney knows how essential networking is to building and sustaining a practice, however, not every networking opportunity is created equal. It can make more sense, for example, to speak at a small seminar with an audience full of potential referral sources than to deliver a keynote address for a major convention with attendees who are unlikely to provide many referrals.

You might find, therefore, that you can get more from being active in your local bar association than a national bar association (or vice versa, depending on your practice area). You should also consider joining sections for practice areas other than your own if those attorneys work with clients who could use your services. For example, business attorneys might benefit from networking with intellectual property lawyers whose clients are launching new ventures. This strategy works with non-lawyer referral sources, as well. Forming relationships with CPAs, financial planners, bankers and real estate attorneys can lead to new work.

Nurture Referral Relationships

Resist the temptation to think of a referral as a transaction. Ideally, a referral will mark the start of an ongoing relationship that includes numerous referrals over a long period of time.

To nurture these relationships, always thank sources for every referral, regardless of whether they translate to new work for you. Thank your source when you receive a referral, when you are hired and when you complete the matter. This will show your sincere appreciation and keep you top of mind with the referral source.

Finally, when the opportunity arises, refer business back to people who have sent work your way. The best personal relationships are two-way streets, and referral relationships are no different.

Worth the Work

Even in this digital age, there is simply no replacement for word-of-mouth when it comes to landing new clients. Making the practices discussed an integral part of how you work can help increase the odds of receiving referrals that grow your business and your bottom line.

Sidebar: Do Not Forget Ethics Issues

The rules of professional conduct do not prohibit attorneys from seeking and accepting referrals, but they do impose some restrictions on what you can and cannot do in this area. For example, you generally cannot:

  • Enter into exclusive referral agreements whereby you and a referral source refer clients only to each other (in other words, the referring party must be able to recommend more than one attorney to its client);
  • Neglect to disclose reciprocal referral relationships to clients;
  • Promise gifts or referral fees in exchange for referrals; and
  • Share fees with a non-attorney.

You can enter fee-sharing agreements with an attorney in another firm as long as the total fee is reasonable, the fee-sharing is proportional to the work involved (or both attorneys are jointly responsible for the representation), and the client agrees to the arrangement in writing. Ethics rules vary by jurisdiction, of course, so always check applicable local rules when in doubt.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.