How to get referrals from attorneys you don’t know

I received a letter from a Probate lawyer who is seeking referrals from large PI/Med Mal firms who need guidance in their wrongful death and minor settlement cases. He and his partners had compiled a list of law firms and written a letter they intended to "mass mail". 

The letter they were planning to send introduced the Probate firm, described their capabilities, and requested referrals. 

He was asking for my opinion of this strategy and letter.

I liked the idea of targeting specific kinds of cases from specific firms, (assuming they had reason to believe those firms didn’t have in-house capability to handle those matter), but I didn’t think their plan to mass mail letters would be effective. 

One-shot mailings like this are unlikely to generate any business. About the only chance you have is to reach someone at precisely the time when he or she has a case they need help with and they don’t have anyone else to refer it to. While that could happen, it makes more sense to begin to build relationships with lawyers (anyone) who DON’T need  your services at the moment and do what you can to be the one they think of when they do.

Marketing, especially referral marketing, is a process, not an event.

Here are some of my additional comments and suggestions:

  • If you’re going to contact a cold list, you need to do something to get a response so that you can continue to stay in touch with them and win their trust, over time. I’d recommend offering to send a "Free Report" that educates them on the issues they need to be aware of so that (a) they can do a better job for their clients and (b) be better able to avoid malpractice. This will be a benefit to them and position you as an expert. You can also offer a free phone review of their case. If the list is short enough, you could SEND the report and make a second offer to get them to respond (so you can stay in touch). The second offer could be a second report, a checklist, a form, or anything else.

  • I suggest you find people you already KNOW who can refer you to the people on your list, OR to people who may know them, OR to people who may know people who know them. Then, you can contact these lawyers with the name of a mutual contact. Much more effective. 

  • You should also consider working towards having a colleague (another med mal lawyer) write (sign off on) a letter in which they endorse your services to their fellow practitioners. They’ve used you, they recommend you, they trust you, etc. This is the strongest kind of letter you can send.
  • Letters do a have a place, but, I’d prefer to see you call. You want to build relationships with these potential referral sources, and to do that, you need to talk to them.

Find a reason, and call. The reason could be because you want to interview them for an article, you’re doing a survey for your newsletter, to invite them to your free seminar, to offer them a copy of your new report or a subscription to your newsletter. It could even be to simply introduce yourself and find out more about what they do.

You’ll hit it off with some of them and follow up with coffee or lunch. You only need a few good ones to start, then you can leverage those relationships to gain introductions and endorsements to others.