If you run a law firm or practice, generating referrals is one of the most cost-effective ways to gain more clients. There are a variety of tactics you can employ to build a steady stream of referrals. Some attorneys choose to enlist a lawyer referral service, but many others prefer to build a referral network themselves. With the right set of tools, seeking out referral attorneys can provide a great return for your firm.
Building a referral pipeline begins and ends with your ability to network and build trust with other attorneys. When reaching out, you must make it clear that you value their time and that you are willing to give as well as take. Whether you have a handful of business cards collecting dust, or if you have a few firms you’d like to start a discussion with, here are three proven email templates you can use to set up attorney referral relationships:
Template 1: Post-event follow-up email
Hello [First name],
It was great meeting you at [event name] yesterday. [Insert specific info about them]
As discussed, I work primarily in [your practice area], and I get a fair amount of potential clients in [their practice area] whom I typically turn away. There could be a great opportunity to exchange case requests for our respective practice areas. Since you focus on [their practice area], I think it would be advantageous for both of us to refer cases to each other.
Please let me know if you have 10-15 minutes on [2-3 weekdays from now] to discuss how we might be able to help one another.
Here is a breakdown of why this message works:
Small window of time:
Make sure to send an email no later than 24 hours after meeting. It is important that you are fresh in their mind when they read your email.
Not just another face in the crowd:
Use the second sentence to mention some memorable fact about them, in order to show that you actually care about them and aren’t just using this purely for your own gain. It can be anything notable that you remember about their firm or personal life.
ABC (Always Be Clear):
Be clear about what the next step is. In this case, you are asking for a short phone call to discuss the details of a referral agreement. Always include a clear next step in your email. Instead of concluding with something like “Would you be interested in discussing a partnership?,” use “Do you have 10-15 minutes on [2-3 weekdays from now] for a quick call to discuss a partnership?” The more specific your call to action, the easier it will be for them to respond positively.
Template 2: Follow-up email for non-responders
Hi [First name],
I’m sure you’re very busy, but I wanted to see if you had a chance to read my previous email.
Seems simple, right?
The lesson here is important. People often assume that getting a non-response means their original email was not persuasive enough. In reality, the recipient is probably so inundated with emails that they just didn’t get the chance to read yours and just need a gentle nudge.
Reply to your original email to create a continued thread. Remember, the ultimate goal here is to pique their interest just enough so that they will set a meeting with you. One of the biggest turn-offs is sounding canned or pushy.
Template 3: Cold outreach to attorneys
Hello [First name],
I was doing some research on [their practice area] attorneys in [their city/region] and your name came up. I run [your firm name], and we get many inquiries from potential [their practice area] clients whom we have to turn down. I was impressed by your firm’s online reputation, and I think we could both benefit from exchanging referrals that fall outside of our respective practice areas.
[Info about what your firm does and the types of cases/locations you focus on] Please let me know if you have 10-15 minutes on [2-3 weekdays from now] to discuss a potential referral partnership.
What’s going on here?
This last template is meant to be a cold introduction to someone whom you haven’t met in person. The first line indicates that you have a genuine interest in them specifically. It is important to keep the tone conversational and personal.
Your online reputation and web presence should speak for itself, so avoid using any bulleted lists or other sales pitch material in your email. You simply want them to understand who you are and why you are reaching out, and let them decide if they’d like to discuss next steps. The follow-up template for non-responders will work as a second email here as well.
These three templates should set you on your way to gaining more trusted referral cases. For general advice on what to do next, and how to approach referrals in general, check out6 Networking Tips For Lawyers to Get More Clients, and 3 Ways for Law Firms to Get More Referrals.