Attorneys work diligently to grow their practice, hire a legal team, and market their business. While websites, social media, newsjacking, and content writing are extremely effective tools, lawyers also need referrals. Improving referrals for a law firm requires a few simple steps.
A law firm cannot thrive if it is not trusted by its own clients, and the firm should have a network of friends who are willing to hand out a business card, pass on a phone number, or simply offer a kind word. It is beneficial to add attorney referral marketing to website design, content marketing, social media management, email marketing, press releases, and search engine optimization (SEO) when working with our Cherry Hill legal marketing firm.
Lawyers are often trained to think in the most linear manner possible. This is a good place to start when managing a business, but it does not account for the personal side of referrals and marketing. A firm can invest money in a marketing agency, such as Premier Legal Marketing (PLM), however, the firm must also contribute to the marketing effort.
A lawyer who attends networking events and nurtures relationships with other lawyers will see their business grow much faster. An attorney who waits for organic referrals might not gain a new business over that same period. There is no need to wait. A new lawyer who just passed the bar can start getting referrals the night of their first networking event, the day of a successful business lunch, or after participating in a community event.
Networking events are a good way to meet other attorneys. These events are often hosted by the bar association or a particular trade association closely related to the attorney’s work. For example, a lawyer who primarily litigates oil and gas exploration accidents might also join the American Association of Drilling Engineers. Networking events include conferences, round tables, mixers, fundraisers, galas, workshops, and meetings of the local Chamber of Commerce. These events provide a nice way to sit down and relax with other people in the industry. While someone who attends these events might talk business with other lawyers, the event does not need to be serious.
Exchange business cards at the event, take an interest in all the people that are there, and create a list of new contacts. It even helps to take notes on the back of each business card to remember what that lawyer practices. For example, a lawyer who needs a place to refer complex oil rig accident claims can trade business cards and ask for help. At the same time, a board member of the American Association of Drilling Engineers local union might trade cards with a lawyer because they want to get to know local firms who can help their workers.
When the event is over, go back and send thank you emails to everyone that was there. Let them know they can refer clients who have specific needs, and that referrals will come their way if the need should arise. This is the best way to show another attorney they created a mutually beneficial relationship with someone in the area.
Because referrals are a two-way street, lawyers need to know that they are getting something out of the relationship aside from a place to refer certain clients. Attend as many events as possible because one never knows who will be there. Meeting more people expands the referral network for the firm and becoming a household name among other lawyers and industry insiders makes a firm stronger.
Other law firms will thank their colleagues for referrals, and that means there should be a public announcement when referrals are received. Client referrals should not be a quiet thing. While the firm cannot reveal confidential information, a blurb on the website that highlights other attorneys and their referrals is helpful. Send a copy of this announcement to attorneys who referred those clients thanking them for their help. Other law firms will see these announcements, and they will know that they have a place to send clients they cannot assist. A press release each quarter will also help spread information to local news agencies.
A law firm should congratulate itself when it does a good job. A lawyer is their own best advocate. The announcements listed above are a good way to congratulate the firm for the work that it has done. This is also a good way to show that the firm knows how to accept cases that are already in progress, cannot be handled by another firm, or that fit into the special area of concern for the business.
When a law firm congratulates itself, the focus should be put on someone else. The firm’s name can be printed in bold letters, but the content should talk about how the client was able to achieve maximum compensation, received the judgment they deserved, or won a major lawsuit.
Community events are a good way to get to know people in the community, make the firm a household name, and put a face with a name. There is no need for expensive commercials and billboards when people have met the legal team at a casual event. These events are extremely diverse, and every firm should choose community events that fit in with its mission, practice area, or public presence. For example, a family law firm might donate to a food bank or volunteer at a local mission. That very same firm might also sponsor a battered women’s program, offer pro bono adoption services through a charity, or host family events where parents can bring their children to have a good time.
A firm that typically handles car accidents might work with a local drunk driving program to help raise awareness. A real estate firm that mostly serves tenants might host events with a local renter’s union. A tax attorney might participate in a local financial literacy program. A firm should try to participate in the community as much as possible and physically appear at these events. When the legal team cannot attend these events, the firm might consider sponsoring youth sports teams since their jerseys and ballparks will carry advertising within the community.
Small gifts are a good way to tell other firms that their referrals are appreciated. Send a gift card for coffee or lunch to the lawyer who just sent over a big referral. Send a catered lunch to the firm that routinely sends over clients. While the occasional gift is a good idea, holiday gifts are often the best way to show appreciation for a year’s worth of referrals. If a single lawyer or law firm sent over a particularly major referral for the business that made a lot of money, a special gift or dinner celebration may be appropriate.
When lawyers go through the networking and referral marketing process, they often get to know other attorneys, take their business cards, and move on. Sadly, they may not speak again. It helps to maintain good relationships with these firms or individuals to ensure that referrals continue flowing.
For example, it might be wise to go to lunch once a week with a different attorney with whom the firm already has a relationship. This is a good way to catch up and possibly refer clients on the spot. Call these lawyers just to check in or send them an email to make sure they know their friendship is still valued and strong. These lawyers can become friends with enough time and investment. A friend is more likely to refer clients, and they can speak on the success that a client will experience.
If an attorney who established contact with another firm leaves or retires, someone else should be assigned to that contact immediately. Get in touch, take them out to lunch, and put a face to the name. Get to know them and establish the kind of friendship that they had with their last contact. If this sort of relationship is not maintained, the other lawyer will look elsewhere.
It is difficult to congratulate other attorneys when everyone is competing for similar clients. However, it helps to congratulate other attorneys when they do good work as a gesture of goodwill. Send them an email, call and leave a message, or post a nice note on their social media pages.
Because everyone is different, it helps to send praise that makes the biggest difference. If a meeting or event is coming up, go over and congratulate that lawyer in person. If they like to receive phone calls, call them and let them know they did a good job. Sometimes, leaving a message with their secretary offering congratulations will suffice.
A particularly big victory for another attorney might warrant a gift basket. The recipient will know that their referral partners recognize greatness, hard work, and dedication when they see it. Plus, this is a good way to receive recognition in return. A lawyer who received gifts, public accolades, and private praise is more likely to refer more clients in the future.
If a lawyer or law firm is on the receiving end of referrals, they often feel as though they do not have any control. These lawyers might feel like they are reliant on someone else’s generosity to make a living. However, this is not the case. Lawyers often have a specialty that other firms lack, and that niche can be used to garner even more attention. This is why a legal marketing agency is needed that can create content showcasing the expertise of each attorney.
This type of niche marketing could turn a law firm into the place that everyone goes when they want to refer a specific type of client. Take these lawyers out for a meal, host events, and create a distribution list of all the lawyers or firms who need help with that specialty. A lawyer or firm can become the center of attention as they can grow a massive network of contacts.
If a lawyer works for a large firm, they might try to build their personal practice through niche marketing. Someone who is able to expand their personal practice with this type of marketing might teach it to others at the firm. For example, a personal injury firm might have a lawyer working exclusively on motorcycle accidents while another focuses on truck accidents. These attorneys have different places to search for referrals and use their own plans to market themselves. The firm is constantly bringing in new clientele because there is a lawyer available to handle any situation.
Referrals are different from cold calling, prospecting, or door-to-door sales. A law firm hires a marketing firm, such as PLM, to generate a natural flow of business to each lawyer. Supplementing a smart approach to marketing with referrals only enhances marketing tactics. A marketing agency can add announcements for new referrals, write content about referral success stories, use social media to talk about expertise in a certain practice area, publicize community events, and even congratulate the firm on a job well done.
Reach out to Premier Legal Marketing when you need help improving the frequency and quality of your referrals. We are a Cherry Hill legal marketing firm that offers website design, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media marketing, content development, and press release services to our clients. To get started, call us today at 856-320-2016 or contact us online for more information. Located in Pennsauken and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve law firms nationwide.