Monday, April 28, 2014

When Law Firm Referrals Stop

Referrals are the lifeblood of business development programs for law firms around the country. Whether they come from a non-competing attorney, a friendly accountant, or an existing client, a referral is golden.

The bankruptcy boutique law firm of Stutman Treister & Glatt found out the hard way what happens when referrals stop coming in the door. In a Wall Street Journal article today titled, "Bankruptcy Specialist Folds," shareholder Robert Greenfield is quoted as saying,
We used to get referrals from all the major firms in L.A. The bigger firms decided to do their own bankruptcy work, so the referrals were slowing down.
As a result, the 25-attorney law firm is shutting its doors after 60 years in business.

Clearly several other factors are at play here, not the least of which is a significant decline in bankruptcy cases. The firm also appeared to lack any significant diversification in practice areas that might cushion the downturn.

It is worth noting, however, that referrals are only one piece of the business development equation for law firms. Other lead generation techniques include:
  • Pick a niche. Targeting a very specific segment of the market, in a level of detail that enables you to compile a list of anywhere from 100 to 500 prospects by name, brings focus to networking efforts.
  • Market to current and past clients. Clients represent the best source of business in the short run, and can also provide another source of referrals. A quarterly "client alert" helps a law firm maintain a continuous presence with past clients.
  • Establish a Marketing Committee. Survival requires continuous growth, and a law firm marketing committee can take the lead in planning for future business development campaigns and strategies.
Law firms are also well served to closely monitor the competitive environment. When an increasing number of firms start to encroach on a firm's territory or expertise, it is time to take decisive action. Options include a merger with a more diversified law firm, or branching out into related areas of practice.

Get Ideas for Your Legal Marketing Campaign

Contact law firm marketing consultant Margaret Grisdela at 1-866-417-7025 to discuss the legal marketing strategies that work best for your law firm. Click on the link to connect with her on LinkedIn.

Remember, marketing is a process and not an event! Have fun. 

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