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Putting your thumb on the scale with incoming referrals

You don’t have to wait for incoming referrals to show up. You can proactively pursue them through strategic referral marketing efforts

Two lawyers. Two different situations. One common thread.

The first lawyer is one of twelve at a law firm that practices many areas of law, including criminal, family, maritime, personal injury, and workers’ compensation. It is the kind of generalist law firm you would expect to find in an idyllic small town with a Main Street lined with family-owned businesses.

Except it is located in one of the ten largest cities in the United States.

The lawyer wants to increase his incoming referrals for workers’ compensation cases. The problem is that because his law firm practices many areas of law, most lawyers are hesitant to refer him workers’ comp cases because they view his firm as a competitor.

Worse still, he is located in a market where the big workers’ comp law firms have annual advertising budgets of millions of dollars which buys them a level of awareness and, subsequently, incoming referrals, he cannot match.

I asked him what he is doing to strategically build his referral network so as to avoid the problems with referring lawyers he is dealing with. I asked if he was, for example, targeting small law firms outside of his downtown that are run by younger lawyers who are unlikely to view his firm as competition and might appreciate the informal mentoring he could provide them as they grow their legal practices.

He said he never thought of that. In fact, he said, he hasn’t really thought about proactively and strategically increasing his referral base.

The second lawyer runs a slightly smaller catastrophic personal injury law firm in a large city. He saw a Presidents Day advertisement from a larger competitor with a multimillion-dollar advertising budget. We talked about whether it made sense for his firm to do a similar ad next year.

I asked him if any of the top referring lawyers to his law firm were U.S. history buffs or were fond of a particular U.S. president. I suggested that if any were, for next Presidents Day, his firm could send them gifts related to U.S. history or that president that are designed to be displayed in their offices. If his firm did, the recipients of those gifts would think of his law firm every time they looked at the gifts. Whenever visitors ask about them, his law firm would be discussed again.

These strategic gifts would provide much more bang for the buck than running an ad because they would cement this lawyer’s firm at the top of those referring lawyers’ minds for as long as the gifts remained in their offices.

Two lawyers. Two different situations. One common thread: putting their thumbs on the scale when it comes to incoming referrals at their law firms.

While there’s a good chance that if you are reading this email you are a lawyer, the fact is that for most professional services firms, regardless of their line of work, incoming referrals are a significant source of new business. But most professional services firms leave incoming referrals to chance.

It doesn’t have to be that way. They — and you — can put a referral marketing strategy into place.

But be warned, you can’t just snap your fingers and watch the referrals roll in.

You will need to think carefully about who would be the best kinds of new referral sources to reach out to, and who your current referral sources are that are worth building a stronger connection with.

You will need to think carefully about how you initially approach these new referral sources and how you continue to approach your current ones.

You will need to think carefully about what you say when you approach new referral sources for the first time, and what you say in future communications to these referral sources and your established ones.

And, you will need to think carefully about when you approach new and current referral sources throughout the year.

We all love referrals because referred potential new clients tend to come to us “warmer” than a potential new client who found us through other avenues. People referred to us know they have a problem and they know, thanks to the person referring us, that we can help them solve it.

Referrals are too important to leave to happenstance.

Do yourself a favor and think about what you can do to create more of them through strategic planning and elbow grease.

Bottom line: You don’t have to wait for incoming referrals to show up. You can proactively pursue them through strategic referral marketing efforts.

Interested in learning how ethically collaborating with a ghostwriter can help you boost your law firm’s referral marketing efforts? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your law firm.

Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service helps Big Law and boutique law firm partners, and their firms, grow their practices and prominence by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.

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