"Everything you've been told about building
an injury law practice is wrong"

Why Failure is Good

4 years ago (October 19, 2013), we created a wildly ambitious marketing goal (a/k/a our “Mission”).

We realized that our highest value cases (and biggest legal fees) came from cases referred by lawyers. Rather than wasting time on marketing to the consumers via conventional marketing tactics, i.e., TV, radio, digital ads, we spent every dollar on marketing to current and prospective referral partners, namely, plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers in New York State.

Whenever I was tempted to veer back into marketing to consumers, my Accountability Coach put the brakes on. Even when offered an opportunity for a free full-page ad on a non-lawyer magazine, my Accountability Coach reminded me that this would violate our plan to market only to lawyers and that we had to decline the offer.

A Wildly Ambitious Mission from a Nutty Lawyer

Our “Mission” was to have at least 500 referral partners within 4 years (October 19, 2017). A “Referral Partner” is a lawyer, or someone within the legal field (i.e., paralegal, Executive Director of a Bar Association) who has referred a new case to my firm within the last 5 years.

We began by taking inventory of our referral partners. On October 19, 2017, we had 124 Referral Partners and for each of the 4 years (2013-2017), we set annual goals (known as “base camps”) for the number of Referral Partners, i.e., 2013: 124; 2014:185; 2015: 265; 2016: 375; and 2017: 500.

Our marketing blitz consisted of:

  • Our monthly print newsletter (“Lawyer Alert”),
  • Weekly email newsletters,
  • Launched a website, UltimateInjuryLaw.com, with our best marketing and management tips for lawyers,
  • Spoke at seminars for local, state and national trial lawyer organizations, i.e., PILMMA, Great Legal Marketing and the National Trial Lawyers,
  • Published articles for trial lawyer organizations (i.e., American Association for Justice and the New York Law Journal),
  • At least one update/day about the status of a referred case for our referral partners,
  • Hosted self-funded seminars and parties for lawyers,
  • Created a mastermind (“Mastermind Experience”) with high-achieving lawyers across the country, and
  • Published our second book for lawyers, “The Law Firm of Your Dreams”, with our best advice for marketing and managing a law firm.

Our firm celebrates whenever we receive a referral from a new referral partner and we send a “Shock & Awe” package to new referral partners with our best marketing and management materials. Every new referral partner is added to our mailing list for our monthly print newsletter (“Lawyer Alert”) and weekly email newsletter, so we stay “top of mind” with them.

An Experiment Gone Awry…Kind of

As of October 19, 2017, we had 279 Referral Partners. Since we began the marketing campaign 4 years ago, we acquired 155 new referral partners, but came nowhere close to our Mission of 500 referral partners.

Did we fall flat on our face? The number of our Referral Partners is more than double what it was 4 years ago and increased at the rate of 39 new referral partners per year. Over the last 4 years, the average value of our cases has increased, our net income is much higher and our marketing budget is the same. The goal: low overhead, high profit.

The team that makes the most mistakes usually wins, because doers make mistakes.

–John Wooden

Among marketing principles, I like this one the most: SHOW UP LIKE NO ONE ELSE. I am not aware of any other lawyer who has focused 100% of their marketing budget on acquiring lawyer referrals. This marketing strategy is our attempt to be different.

If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying

We are increasing our Mission from 500 to 600 referral partners over the next 3 years. These are the annual goals (a/k/a “base camps”) for our Mission: 2017: 279; 2018: 350; 2019: 450; and 2020: 600. Our new Mission is to have 600 Referral Partners by October 17, 2020.

To accomplish this, we will keep doing what we’re doing and add some new marketing tactics. Here’s our plan:

  • Become a certified provider of continuing legal education (“CLE”) credits by the New York State Bar Association;
  • Publish a weekly column for the New York Law Journal;
  • Have lunch dates with current and prospective referral partners at least once a week, and
  • Expand the “Mastermind Experience” to New York State.

Life in solo practice is damn hard with tons of ups and tons, anxiety and sleepless nights. But truth be told, I am happier than I’ve ever been and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’m willing to bet that since you’re reading this, you wouldn’t either.

Thank you for joining us on this journey…and when October 17, 2020 rolls around, I want you to kick our butt if we don’t achieve our Mission.


photo credit: AJC1 Feedback checklist via photopin (license)

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.