Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Are Your A Referral Source, Or A Name Collector?

I've written about the topic of lawyers making referrals a couple times before.

The prior posts dealt with the moronic way that lawyers do the "3 names" thing. That's not a referral, that's giving 3 names and saying "pick whomever."

In 2009, I said:

Why tell the client the best Italian restaurant in town, when you can give them a list of 3? That way if they don’t like the one they choose, it’s not the lawyer’s fault.

In football, we call that “punting.” You can’t get the ball where you need it to go, so you just give it to the other team and see what they can do with it.

If you’re referring 3 lawyers, you’re referring no one. You’re punting.

Last year, I said: We are the profession known best for referring business and we suck at it.

In 2011, it's getting worse.

Here's the new trend:

An email goes out on a listserv: Anyone know a good, reasonably priced, not too expensive divorce lawyer (everyone on a listserv wants a good, reasonably priced, not too expensive lawyer) in Shitbag, Wherever?

Fifteen minutes later:

Thanks for all the responses, wow this listserv is great, I've passed along all the names to the client.

Way to go. The guy just asked you to recommend someone for him and you told him to choose between 13 names of friends of your friends, and probably some of your friends who in this economy told you they will fly there and handle the case themselves, for $500 down.

Question: What is your fear of becoming a good source for referrals to good lawyers?

Why can't you take those 13, 19, or 57 names and take a few minutes and look a couple of them up? Maybe call one or two.

I think you're better off saying you don't know anyone, because you don't.

Clients are looking for referrals, not looking to pin the tail on the donkey on the internet. They're asking you for a name, a recommendation. Give one, or don't.

Non-anonymous comments welcome. Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

1 comment:

Victor Medina said...

Just had occasion to refer to a bankruptcy attorney in New Jersey yesterday. My usual person wasn't accepting new clients, so asked another trusted source in New York City where he refers his Jersey cases. Called the attorney myself, explained the situation, and did the best I could at determining that it was a good place to go.

Then, I called the client asking for the referral (for someone else), and, get ready for this, told her what I had done. Disclosed that I hadn't referred to them in the past, but here were my thoughts and then gave the name.

It took about 15 minutes of my time, all told. I won't get a thing out of it except knowing that I did the right thing by the client (and her friend).

I'm your lawyer because you trust my advice. You get 1 name.