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4 Myths That Keep Attorneys From Building a Referral Based Practice Part 2

May 29, 2008
Every attorney I've ever talked to has said they want a referral-based law practice. Knowing that, it continues to amaze me how little attorneys actually do to increase the quantity of referrals they receive and improve the quality of those referrals.

Now we will talk about law firm marketing strategies for generating more and better referrals, we discussed the prevailing myth that clients are the best source of referrals. For most attorneys, clients are simply the most obvious source of referrals, not necessarily the best. Here's the second myth.

LAW FIRM MARKETING MYTH 2. Most referrals come from other attorneys.

In his comprehensive marketing book, Flying Solo, author K. William Gordon states around 25% of an established attorneys practice comes through referrals from other legal professionals, so logically about 75% of your clients will come from other sources (this may vary greatly by practice area).

Here are a couple tips if you're looking to other attorneys for new clients:

* Identify the specific legal practice areas that target a similar client, but offers different services.
* Create a list of three to five attorneys you know in these practice areas and interview them.
* Ask them the criteria they use in making referrals and what they would like in return. Many of them do not want money, but they do want to know their clients will be treated like VIPs.
* Set up a tracking system as part of your client intake file and then review on a quarterly basis where those leads came from.
* Reward your referral sources with a card, bottle of wine, tickets to a game, etc. If they are not an attorney be careful of running afoul of your state bar's ethics code.

Many attorneys find the best referrals come from allied professionals and other trusted advisors. We have an estate planning attorney in Los Angeles who has found his best referrals come from private wealth managers at local bank branches. He specifically targets this group with regular presentations and seminars to educate them about upcoming trends and top challenges in wealth management.

We have an immigration attorney in New York who has found a local non-profit organization that specializes in helping migrant workers. He writes a column, in Spanish, for their monthly newsletter and gives free presentations to their organization every month on Workers Rights in America and answers questions. The staff and executive director of that organization have sent him over 50 new clients in the next 3 months.

LAW FIRM MARKETING MYTH 3. Online legal directories produce a lot of attorney referrals.

There is some indication that white collar professionals are starting to use online legal directories more to find a local attorney. This allows them to find dozens or hundreds of lawyers and quickly screen them out based on self-selected criteria. They may even view attorneys who are listed on some of these top attorney websites as more qualified than attorneys who are not.

Generally speaking, local and state bar directories are more effective at boosting your online credibility due to their direct connection to your state or local bar, so I would recommend being listed there, but most non-bar-affiliated online directories have become the equivalent of online yellow pages and do not offer any more benefits than advertising in a telephone book.

Be skeptical of paying too much for a listing on any online legal directory. Anything more than a couple hundred dollars a year is probably too much and could be better spent buying Google Adwords to directly promote your personal website. There are many great ways to build your online presence: publishing articles in online directories, issuing press releases, and starting a blog, just to mention three.

As with all of your law firm marketing efforts, try to measure your return on investment by listing a separate phone number for those prospects to call or by setting up a separate landing page on your website that can only be accessed from that directory.

In the third part, we will focus on the difference between formal and informal networking, which one works for attorneys, and several tips for marketing your law firm and achieving your goal of building a referral based practice.
About the Author
The Rainmaker Institute is the nation's largest law firm marketing company that specializes in helping small law firms and solo practitioners generate more and better referrals and fill their practice. Over 6,000 attorneys have benefited from applying our proven Rainmaker Marketing System. Stephen Fairley founded the company in 1998. For more information visit www.toplawfirmmarketingtips.com
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