Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

12 Tips for Getting More Referrals

There is a cheap and easy way to boost referrals to your law practice.

Just ask for more business. Of course this sounds obvious. Self-evident. Yet many lawyers – possibly including you – don’t do it.

Many lawyers want to grow their practice and get more out of their law lives. They are terrific practitioners with keen minds. Yet when asked what they are doing to encourage referrals, they usually point to their website, paid ads or social media. Some say they belong to referral networks.

All of this is well and good. But a better idea is to get on the phone – or better yet, get out of your chair – and let someone know you’d appreciate any work they could send your way.

“Great businesses are all built upon trusted and successful relationships,” writes marketer Sherrie Campbell in this article in Entrepreneur. “These relationships are essential to getting the referrals we need to build the thriving and successful brand we dream of.”

12 Tips for Getting More Referrals

Here is a simple truth: if you don’t ask for business, you won’t get it. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Do a great job. Your current clients are your number-one referral base. Make sure you serve them well. When their case is over, you want them to become reliable lead-generators.
  2. Ask clients to refer you to others. A survey by HubSot found that 92 percent of people rely on recommendations from family and trusted friends when making important business decisions.
  3. Keep in touch with former clients. The relationship needn’t end just because the file is closed.
  4. Pay attention to “touch points.” These are opportunities that arise throughout the day to make a new personal connection or deepen an existing one. They happen when you check in with a current client or stay in touch with a former one. And they can happen spontaneously: at the post office, in the parking lot, or at lunch. “Touch points are emotional connection points,” writes Campbell, author of Success Equations. “[M]ove towards deeper and more meaningful connection points that bond our customers to our mission.”
  5. Follow the ethics rules. Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3 prohibits solicitations unless the other person is a lawyer, family member, or someone with whom you have a close personal or prior professional relationship. While you’re at it, review Rule 7.1 (Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services) and Rule 7.2 (Advertising).
  6. Make sure you’re selling what people want to buy. You will likely come up empty asking for global mergers and acquisitions cases if your practice is in a small town in rural North Carolina.
  7. Stay in front of your key referral sources. Make a list of the 10 people and businesses that send you the most work. Check in with them frequently. Meet them for coffee and conversation. Forward an article of interest. Call just to say hello.
  8. Harvest potential sources. In a given case, you may meet lots of people: witnesses, experts, vendors, service providers. Any one of them might have a great case to refer to you. Invite them to do so.
  9. Leverage social media. This is a great way to build new connections, Campbell writes. “It is also a great avenue to showcase that your brand offers something unique and practical.” To that end, she suggests posting interesting photos and videos, using memorable slogans and taglines, and educating viewers about what you can offer.
  10. Tell a great story about who you are and what you do. People are drawn to a compelling narrative. They want to become part of your story.
  11. Be authentic. But don’t try to pass yourself off as someone you’re not. People don’t like phonies, and they don’t appreciate being misled.
  12. Give more than you get. Relationships are two-way streets. Focus on service. Seek first to help, and you will be asked to help.


Referrals are the life-blood of a law practice, yet many firms are in dire need of a transfusion. How does your firm encourage referrals?

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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