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4 Myths That Keep Attorneys From Building a Referral Based Practice

Aug 25, 2008
Law firm marketing is all about receiving highly qualified referrals. Every attorney seeks to have a referral based practice. However, many attorneys seem to spend their entire professional career trying to create the perfect practice with little results to show for it.

This is the article on building a referral-based law practice and I would like to focus on some commonly held myths about building a referral based practice for attorneys.

LAW FIRM MARKETING MYTH: Clients are the best source of referrals.

Over the last few years I've spoken at more than twenty of the largest state and local bar associations on practical law firm marketing strategies and without fail, I get more resistance to this myth than perhaps any other. Here's the truth behind the myth: for many lawyers, clients are simply the most obvious source of referrals, not the best source.

The numbers of variables you must take into account when seeking more referrals from your current and former clients are large. Here are just a couple of them:

Is your law firm primarily a B2C or B2B firm (Business to Consumer or Business to Business)? For many B2C attorneys, such as family law, personal injury, and criminal defense, referrals from former clients are generally random events. Either they know someone going through a divorce or they don't.

Many of our B2B clients, such as general business law, corporate litigation, and commercial real estate, have been able to develop semi-structured client referral programs because their clients often interact with other executives & companies who need similar services.

Have you made clients aware of all the different services you offer? I'm convinced one of the biggest reasons why attorneys don't receive more referrals is because they don't take the time to inform & remind their clients of the various services they offer. Most clients immediately put their attorney in a box and believe the only service the lawyer offers is the one they used.

I was speaking today with an attorney who practices business law. He was upset at a client because he helped the client set up an LLC three months ago, but at a recent meeting told the attorney they gave the name of a competing law firm to a friend who needed help with a multi-million dollar business transaction.

The client was shocked when the attorney explained that was his specialty. The client responded by saying, "I'm sorry about that, but you really need to do a better job informing me of what you do and what kind of cases you want because I don't know."

How much business have you lost because your clients simply aren't aware of the various services your firm can provide for them and their associates?

Can clients accurately explain who your ideal target market is? Your ideal target market is the person or company who is most likely to hire you initially, repeatedly and at the highest profit margin. With so many attorneys struggling to define their ideal client it's no wonder if your clients don't even know who they should refer to you.

Here's a small challenge for you, ask 3 of your clients this week who they believe your ideal client is and listen how accurately they respond. If you're struggling to define who your ideal client is, seek the help of a law firm marketing professional.

Do you regularly and consistently stay connected with clients in a way that adds value? Every law firm needs a client education plan that not only positions your law firm, explains different services you offer and keeps your current clients informed as to what's going on in your firm, but also acts as a resource and guide to them.
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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