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8 Lawyers Share How to Land More Client Referrals
Thursday, June 15, 2023

There are many creative ways to get more law firm referrals. From forming strategic partnerships with other legal professionals to joining directories and referral sites, you can tap into a variety of channels and strategies to get more leads.

That said, some methods may be more efficient or cost-effective than others. So, it’s no wonder that some lawyers choose favorites when it comes to referral generation strategies.

We wanted to ask lawyers themselves what referral methods they like best – and share their tips for how to use these methods effectively!

1. Treat your customers like rockstars

“Our favorite and best method for getting referrals is by engaging with our existing clients and treating them the best way we can. We find a great portion of our referrals come from former clients who were happy with how we served them.”

– Greg Bird, Fasig | Brooks

It’s no surprise that one of the best ways to generate more referrals is to provide a stellar experience to existing clients. Happy clients are more likely than unhappy clients to send new business (and positive reviews!) your way.

You want to treat your clients like the rockstars they are – valuing open communication, honesty, professionalism, and care. Clients will remember law firms that put in the extra mile to make them feel heard, respected, and well-represented during their case. These happy clients may send referrals your way in the future. 

2. Embrace digital tools

“Law firms that do not embrace the digital transformation will die on the vine. Data-driven and technically competent law firms will set the bar for the future.”

– Jessica Mihlfled, White Law

Digital tools like social media engagement tools, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, case management software, email marketing tools, and others help increase efficiency in your business and provide better customer service. Law firms that want more referrals should embrace these technologies to take the client experience to the next level.

For example, CRM tools like Salesforce and Zendesk allow law firms to streamline new client intake, document management, meeting scheduling, and follow-up. This not only helps keep your law firm organized but provides a higher level of communication and consistency with your clients.

Even more, many of these tools provide helpful analytics to improve your lead generation process, lead nurturance process, client follow-up, marketing campaigns, and more. A more streamlined, data-driven approach can work to attract more referrals through a variety of channels.

3. Look out for your clients’ best interests

“Our main strategy for generating more referrals is to treat our clients as if they were one of our family members. We realize that after being injured in an accident, we all require extra compassion and understanding to navigate this stressful and confusing time. That is what the Strong Arm is here for – to look out for your best interest.”

– Charlie Osborn, Loncar Lyon Jenkins

As a legal professional, it is your responsibility to operate with your client’s best interests in mind. Often, that requires taking a more aggressive approach. Always, it requires having compassion for their situation and considering what will land them the best result.

The best attorneys are able to balance fierce representation with compassionate understanding. That way, the client feels heard and can also rest easy that you are advocating for their best interests. This level of representation increases the likelihood that they will send family or friends your way if they are looking for services like yours.

It’s important to treat legal cases as not “just a job” but an entry point into a longer-term, referral-generating relationship. Happy clients have the capacity to send you referrals for many years to come. 

4. Invest in client-focused marketing

“Everyone wants to do more direct response marketing (think TV, Radio, PPC, etc), when they should instead be focused on current and former client referrals. Developing a newsletter, drip campaign or other client-focused marketing is much cheaper and potentially more effective.”

– Brandon Dawson, MDSW (Miller, Dawson, Sigal & Ward)

Providing a great client experience is only one part of the equation, though. Many times, past and existing clients will need a friendly nudge to remind them to send referrals your way. You can do this via client-focused marketing channels like drip campaigns/email, newsletters, social media, and the like.

For example, say you landed a huge win for one of your clients. After they’ve paid the last invoice, it may seem it’s time to part ways. 

But before you do, send them an email thanking them for the opportunity to work with them, say you’d appreciate a positive review (on Google. Facebook, etc.), and that you’d love for them to send you referrals if the opportunity ever arises. This puts the bug in their ear to send you new business in the future. 

5. Connect with old colleagues

“I found that the most effective method for me to generate new business has been to keep in contact with my friends from law school or college. I make a point of sending one message a day to an old college or law school friend who I have not spoken to in a while just to check in.  Many of those old friends are now business owners, in-house counsel, or attorneys at other law firms who are thrilled to refer you new business.”

– Zack Domb, Domb & Rauchwerger

As the years go by, it’s easy to fall out of touch with old law school mates and colleagues. But these could be awesome connections to send you more referral business!

As attorney Zack Domb suggested above, consider sending messages (Facebook, email, or LinkedIn work) to old college or law school friends. Check in to see what they are working on, how they are doing, and how you might be able to form a referral partnership. These benefits go both ways (and hey, you might rekindle a great friendship in the process). 

6. Engage new leads on a personal level

“My favorite method for generating referrals is to always speak personally to anyone sent to me by a trusted colleague even if I know that the matter is not one I will take. By engaging on a personal level with referred folks, people know that anyone sent to our office will be treated with respect and offered real-world practical advice in a timely fashion. This practice keeps the referral sources happy and motivated to continue promoting our services.”

– James Parrish, Parrish Law Firm

Often, the referral intake process for law firms is pretty impersonal. You receive a lead from a past client or colleague, you take down their information, and maybe you send them an email follow-up. But how much better could your close rate be if you took the extra mile to build rapport with your referral source and new contact?

Instead of leaving this process up to tools and automation, consider scheduling calls with your referral source and with your new lead. Thank your referral source for the contact and keep this line of communication open for future referrals. Thank your new lead for contacting you and show them the same level of respect you would for any new client!

If a referral source directed the lead to a specific attorney at your office, make sure that is the person they speak to first (not your front desk or assistant). This provides an added personal touch that can make the lead feel valued. 

7. Diversify your digital marketing channels

“I generate referrals through a wide variety of media sources including but not limited to social media, PPC, Google Local Service Ads, Television, Radio, and Billboard, all allowing everyone in my marketplace to know that I am 100% committed to helping those needing assistance in my service area and in the focused field of law in which I practice.”

– Tom Anelli, DWI Tom

It’s difficult for referral sources to find you if you’re not active online. In this digital age, online directories, social media, email, and ads are the top sources of referrals for businesses.

Now, you don’t need to be everywhere at once, but you should aim to diversify your digital marketing to give prospects more places to find you. So, make sure you at least have a LinkedIn and Facebook page set up, that you have optimized your Google Business Profile, and have submitted your business to the most popular directories for your industry.


8. Mentor other lawyers

“​​One of my favorite strategies for generating referrals is mentoring young lawyers. By freely sharing information, I can help the attorney grow and eventually there becomes an opportunity for us to work together. If they never actually refer a case to us at least we helped their clients in some small way.”

– Jack Zinda, Zinda Law

Another way that lawyers generate more referrals is by mentoring other lawyers. Not only will you be a valuable source of support and information for a new lawyer, but you open up yet another channel to generate new leads.

This referral relationship can go the other way as well; you send clients their way and they provide advising for your own clients, as needed. This can result in a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership that earns you both referrals for years to come. 

The point is to build authentic relationships with clients, colleagues, other lawyers, and other businesses alike so that you open up multiple streams of referral sources. Putting in the groundwork now can benefit your business well into the future.

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