'Tis the season for giving and receiving--referrals: help your lawyers make the most of your firm's referral sources.

AuthorMiller, Jason


The primary source of new business in most law firms comes from referrals. Attorneys who are consistently visible to their referral sources will keep their firm top-of-mind, increasing the number of incoming referrals and boosting the bottom line. With this in mind, are legal marketers and attorneys doing enough to cultivate this major source of new business?

Maintaining and expanding a referral network is one of the most important business development activities for attorneys. Legal marketers are in a unique position to emphasize the importance of referrals and how "just waiting for the phone to ring" is not an effective strategy. Lawyers who proactively maintain their referral networks will reap the benefits.

The checklists below illustrate how legal marketing professionals can help attorneys maximize their referral networks when giving, receiving or seeking new clients through referrals.


It is often said that the best way to get a referral is to give one, but what an attorney does after giving a referral can help ensure a mutually beneficial relationship. Here are some action steps to increase the chances of a reciprocal referral:

* Contact the lawyer receiving the referral and let him or her know that business is coming their way. Mention why you are sending the referral and verify that this is the type of business he or she is seeking.

* Stay in touch to get information on the outcome. Was it a quality referral? Did it result in new business? Why or why not? Reinforce that you have both the attorney and client's interests in mind.

* Ask for a return referral or to be considered for future work. Share information about your practice, past clients and capabilities. Do not let referral sources forget about you.

* Have a legal assistant schedule the follow-up activities on your calendar.


An attorney's actions after receiving a referral are crucial to receiving more referrals in the future. The credibility and reputation of the attorney making the referral is on the line. It is important for the receiving attorney to provide quality service and follow-through. Coach your attorneys on the following activities after receiving a referral:

* Acknowledge the good deed immediately and mail your referral sources a thank you note. Express gratitude for their confidence in you and assure them you will do good work.

* Keep your referral source updated about the status or result of the client matter, as...

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