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Research abounds showing that for many businesses, referrals are the most successful method for getting new clients. This is no different for the practice of law. A good referral is awesome: the client fits your practice and already has an incoming positive impression of you and the quality of your services.

While building a steady stream of referral business takes time and dedication, it’s worth the work because great referrals are worth their weight in gold. Here are a few tips to get you started on developing a referral strategy.

  1. Determine the types of cases you want. Are you launching a new practice area? Looking to expand an existing one? What sorts of clients will help you achieve your business goals?
  2. Identify people you can ask for referrals. Think of lawyers in a different practice area and non-lawyer professionals offering complementary services, such as financial advisors, real estate agents, and insurance advisors. Even other lawyers in your practice area can refer clients to you that they aren’t able to represent.
  3. Build relationships with your potential referral sources. Seek them out at social functions. Invite them out for coffee or lunch. Get to know them on both a professional and personal level.
  4. Know the ethics of referrals. Referrals involve clients, fees, and getting business, so there are important ethical guidelines and restrictions you need to know. Start by checking the Rules of Professional Conduct and call the Ethics Hotline if you have questions.
  5. Craft your “ask”. When you ask someone for referrals, explain that you enjoy working with referred clients since they tend to be a better match for your practice. Say you would be glad to reciprocate by sending referrals their way. Also, mention the kind of work and clients you’re looking for.