Lawyer referrals are marketing gold. When you receive a referral from a lawyer, you receive a set of medical records, a cover letter setting forth the theory of liability and the client comes to you with the stamp of approval that you are the perfect lawyer for their case. There’s no way you can screw this up!
Okay, great, but then why do you have no system for cultivating and nurturing lawyer referrals? Instead, you take lawyer referrals for granted and assume that your great work will result in a flood of referrals. Big mistake!
The biggest complaint of referring lawyers (a/k/a your “referral partners”) is that they never hear from you. Even if you’re working hard on the new case, if your referral partner doesn’t hear from you, they’ll assume you’re doing nothing. A system for updating your referral partners about the status of the referred cases is the #1 thing you can do to cultivate lawyer referrals.
Your System for Building Equity with Your Referral Partners
At least once a day you take time out of your busy schedule to update a referral partner about the status of a referral. Sure this will take a few minutes, but you’re building equity with your referral partner and who do you think they’re going to refer their next case to?
The referral update doesn’t have to be a letter or a phone call—it’s usually just a 2-3 paragraph email that describes what you’ve done with the new case. You might explain that you reviewed the medical records, discussed the case with your medical expert and the opinions of your expert. That’s all it takes and there’s a good bet your referral partner will respond with appreciation for the update and let you know that she has other cases to refer.
The Nuts and Bolts of an Email Update to Your Referral Partner
The email to your referral partner always begins with appreciation for the referral:
“Joe, Thank you for your kind referral of Henry Smith.”
Your email briefly describes the facts of the new case and the critical issue that will be evaluated:
“By way of background, Henry Smith, 42 years old, died of bacterial endocarditis 3 days after a visit to the Emergency Department of the hospital. Henry Smith was survived by his wife and 2 children. The critical issue is whether Henry Smith had any signs or symptoms of bacterial endocarditis at the ER visit.”
The next paragraph of your email sets forth your evaluation of the medical records:
“At the ER visit, Henry Smith complained of left ear pain and denied chest pain, had normal blood pressure and had normal blood results. There were no signs and symptoms of bacterial endocarditis at the ER visit. I reviewed the medical records with my medical expert/surgeon and he does not believe there was a deviation from the standard of care.”
You then decline the case and again thank your referral partner:
“For these reasons, I regret that we cannot accept your referral. We will confirm our decision with a letter to Henry Smith and a copy to you. Thank you, as always, for thinking of us with your referrals.”
With just 3 paragraphs, you gave a detailed update regarding your case evaluation to your referral partner that only took 15 minutes. Was that really so hard?
Building a Lawyer Referral Practice for the Future
Updating your referral partners about the status of referrals is what will keep you in business for the long-haul. So you need to take this next assignment VERY SERIOUSLY: every day write at least one update to your referral partner about a new case. Your referral partners will love the update and you will be paid back in spades with more referrals.
Email updates to your referral partners seem so easy to do—but no one is doing this! If you do just this ONE THING, you will be instantly set apart from every other lawyer in your town, county and maybe state. But don’t take my word—try sending email updates once a day for 10 days and you’ll begin seeing the appreciation of your referral partners and a steady flow of new referrals.
Updating your referral partners (a/k/a your ONE THING) doesn’t cost money and only takes a little time, but the long-term impact of your lawyer-referral based practice will be priceless.