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7 Questions Every Attorney Must Answer to Get More Referrals

Cultivating referrals is low-cost and high-reward, and should be at the top of your list when it comes to new business development for your law firm.

The #1 reason attorneys don’t get more referrals is lack of client education.  Every law firm should have a long-term client education program that positions your law firm, explains your current services, and keeps your current clients informed as to what’s going on in your firm.

To provide qualified referrals, your referral sources need to know the answers to these 7 questions and you are the one who has to provide the answers:

  1. What does a great referral look like to you?

  • Be brief, but clearly articulate it

  • Give one or two examples, but make sure the examples reinforce each other and are not opposites or extremes. Focus on your typical client.

  • Be specific, not generic. Don’t say, “anyone who needs a divorce lawyer.” Instead, say “a small business owner or executive who is considering divorce.”

  1. How do I make a referral to your office?

  • Do you prefer an email introduction, a phone call or an in-person meeting?

  • Will you call the referral or do they need to call you?

  1. What do I need to tell referrals about you and your firm?

  • Be specific. Don’t list every practice area, focus on the one or two major areas where your best clients come from.

  • Use language that non-attorneys understand. Don’t use terms like family law, civil litigation or commercial litigation because they won’t know what these terms mean and they won’t ask you to clarify.

  1. What’s in it for me?

  • If your state allows you to give a referral fee to other attorneys, do it.

  • Otherwise, at least send a thank-you card or small gift or anything to acknowledge their referral, even if it doesn’t end up as a paying client.

  1. What should I refer to you?

  • Most people believe lawyers don’t want or need referrals or they get all their clients from their own advertising efforts.

  • Help them understand that your business is just like any other profession and relies on referrals to friends, family members, colleagues, business associates, etc.

  • Educate them on how you are different from other attorneys and why they should send referrals to you. Do not say you are similar to other attorneys!

  1. Do you charge a consultation fee and, if so, how much?

  • Should you charge a consultation fee? It depends.

  • If you have too many unqualified prospects, then charge a consult fee to get rid of the tire kickers. If you need more prospects, then make the consult complimentary.

  • If you usually charge a fee, tell them how much

  • If you normally charge a consult fee but will waive it under certain conditions, tell them what those conditions are.

  • If you offer complimentary consultations, be sure to tell them what that looks like (not a sales pitch/over the phone or in person/how long does it go, etc.

  1. What information can I give to interested prospects?

  • Provide your referral sources with your business cards, brochures if you have them and a one-sheet of your skills, abilities, practice areas, etc. with your website address.

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About this Author

Stephen Fairley legal marketing expert, law office management
CEO

Two-time international best-selling author, Stephen Fairley is the Founder and CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company specializing in marketing and lead conversion for small to medium law firms. Since 1999, he has built a national reputation as a legal marketing expert and been named, “America’s Top Marketing Coach.” He has spoken numerous times for over 35 of the nation’s largest state and local bar associations.

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