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Referral Sources

How to Be an Effective Referral Partner

By Rebecca Nassi on June, 17 2015

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Rebecca Nassi

Rebecca Nassi, JD, MA, is a Senior Advisor on our faculty and facilitates at both the associate and partner levels. Because her background includes the practice of law, the entrepreneurship of two companies, and a Masters in psychology, she brings a unique perspective to the nuances of legal business development. Prior to her coaching work, Rebecca practiced law in the private sector, most recently as a Partner at Libertas Law Group.

“I don’t understand why I’m not getting referrals from the big firms anymore,” my client said. He’s a successful litigating partner in a mid-size firm whose book of business isn’t what it used to be. “After all, I do good work and I don’t poach their clients.”

Unfortunately, those selling points don’t carry much weight in an oversaturated, competitive marketplace where business litigators are a dime a dozen. It goes without saying that when you are referred a new matter, you will apply your best skills as a technician and seek the most favorable outcome for the client. There should be no question in your referral source’s mind that you would even consider poaching their client. Lawyers hoping to pick up conflict matters need to go beyond the minimum acceptable standards of professionalism if they hope to be top-of-mind.

To stand out as an exceptional referral partner, consider building goodwill through gestures of genuine thoughtfulness. Make a professional introduction, or invite your referral source to co-lead a presentation with you or co-author an article for a trade journal. Tailor your gesture to the recipient so that it aligns with their goals. Generous acts such as these promote trust, gratitude, and encourage reciprocity.

We prefer to do business with the people we like. Certainly, expertise comes first, but beyond that we refer other lawyers for subjective reasons (e.g., we “owe them one” or we hope our referral will be returned in kind). So, invest in referral business relationships to increase the chances that they will prioritize you the next time they have business to refer.


Authored by Rebecca Nassi, JD, MA

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