Just about every personal injury lawyer who is actively practicing law wants their practice to flourish through referrals, either from other lawyers of from members of the general public.
Preferably, referrals will come from members of the general public as there are no co-counsel fees or kickbacks expected. In fact, the general rule is that compensating a non-lawyer with funds derived from a case is prohibited.
Here are some sources that you might want to tap into in order to build a lucrative, manageable and tidy personal injury practice:
- Lawyers Who Don’t Do What You Do: Probate lawyers, real estate lawyers, family law practitioners, bankruptcy lawyers and a variety of other legal practitioners don’t do what you do, just like you don’t do the type of work that they do. Potential clients are likely pre-screened, as no lawyer wants to waste another lawyer’s time. Just about anybody is going to want a co-counsel fee though. Those are usually 25% or 33% of your contingency fee. Being active in your bar association or its civil practice committee and attending a once a month meeting might also bring in a few files a year. Check with your jurisdiction on fee splitting agreements.
- Doctors: These professionals know how to recognize liability, damages and insurance. People sometimes need expensive medical care and treatment, but they have no way to pay for it. It’s not necessarily against the law in most states for a doctor to refer a patient to a lawyer. In other states, it’s not against the law for a lawyer to refer a client who requires medical care and treatment to a doctor. Check with your jurisdiction on the legality of such referrals. In either case, you’ll probably receive a physician’s lien, but you might even be able to compromise that and put the balance in the client’s pocket. You’ll have an even happier client.
- Chiropractors: Many people who are injured in accidents will prefer to see a chiropractor rather than a medical doctor, especially if they suffered a musculoskeletal injury as opposed to an injury like a fracture. They’d generally want to have the source of their pain and discomfort treated rather than having their symptoms treated with medication. Some chiropractors hold themselves out as focusing on auto accident injuries. Many of them will work on a lien referral basis, especially if the patient’s health insurer only covers a handful of chiropractic visits per year. Most of them are pleased to refer patients to a personal injury lawyer. Check with your jurisdiction on the propriety of this type of arrangement, and if it’s permissible, get to know a few successful chiropractors over lunch or dinner.
- Insurance Agents: An insurance broker or agent would far rather sell insurance than have accidents reported to them. They realize that accidents are part of their business though, and they have access to people who trust their judgment and experience. Insure your own car, home and anything else with a reliable insurance broker. Make your premium payments in person over your lunch break rather than mailing them to the company. It’s far more personal. If you pay quarterly, you’ll see your agent a minimum of four times a year. That agent is going to get to know you and realize what your practice consists of.
- Car Clubs, Motorcycle Clubs and Bicycle Clubs: These people love the road along with the friendships that they develop over the years. They get together whenever they can, especially in the more temperate parts of the country. Unfortunately, with their lifestyles, more than a handful of these club members are accident victims through no fault of their own. Motorcycle and bicycle accidents are particularly dangerous for victims because they’re highly exposed and vulnerable to severe injuries or even death. Being active in one or more of these types of clubs is going to be enjoyable and fulfilling. It’s going to get you work too, especially when you start attending events sponsored by them or other clubs. You probably don’t even need to own ’66 Chevelle, a Harley-Davidson or even a bicycle. You can be an associate member and attend meetings and events. Over the course of a few years, you’re likely to pick up some nice six-figure work.
- Friends and Family: These are solid referral sources of any type of practice that a lawyer might be involved with. They want to see you succeed. The law probably won’t want you to compensate them for a referral, but there’s nothing wrong with a night out on the town on you. After all, you’ve all been family and friends for as long as you can remember. They’ve done the same thing in the past for you. There’s nothing wrong with reciprocating. Stay in touch with all of these people, even if it’s somebody who you met on your first day of school.
- Throw a Party: A riverboat cruise, a golf outing or other event that’s sponsored by you makes you the center of attention. People love to have fun in their spare time, and they’ll remember you for it. The more that they see you, the more likely they’ll be to refer a seriously injured accident victim over to you.
- Mix Lawyers Up After Work: Appetizers, some wine and some beer at your office or restaurant can bring politicians, immigration lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, divorce lawyers and even general practitioners together at one place at the same time. You all went to law school at one time or another. Lawyers love mixing with other lawyers who have unrelated practices. That’s because lawyers love to learn. These types of gatherings benefit anybody who attends.
- Former Clients: Just about anybody who retained you professionally and was pleased with the services that you delivered is going to refer you. That referral might not come for a few years down the road, but their sincerity in using your name as a quality reference endures. When taking a new client in, don’t just get their name, rank and serial number, Learn about them and their families, careers and get an email address too. Monthly newsletters to former clients keep them reminded that you’re still available to represent accident victims without expressly reminding them of that fact. Just one or two blog posts or newsworthy items a month will serve that purpose well.
- Events Organized by Others: Local fundraisers by child, teen or adult organizations allow you the opportunity to introduce yourself to the public when you personally attend such events. Your face time might only take an hour or two, but you’ll be appreciated and remembered. You don’t need to walk or drive a vehicle in a parade, but be present at the start and finish. Do that for a few years, and people are going to remember who you are and what you do.
- Your Barber or Hairstylist: Even hair-challenged lawyers get their hair cut or styled from time to time, some more frequently than others. Barbers and hairstylists become acquainted with an incredible number of people who have become loyal customers over the years or even decades. Barbers and hairstylists are typically thought of as reliable sources of information too. As a dependable customer, your name is likely to be mentioned from time to time. Some business cards by the cash register might go a long way. Just remember to reload that stack of cards whenever you’re there.
Your best source of referrals will always be you. A dedicated work ethic, professionalism and persistence will take you far. You’ll need to know when to settle or try a case too. Make sure that you use sound judgment and discretion in selecting which cases might go to trial. You don’t want a win and a $2,000 verdict when you asked a jury for a six-figure award. Nothing is going to happen overnight, but if you follow just some of the above advice, you’ll see your practice grow over a few short years, so long as you produce quality legal work.
We always recommend well balanced lead generation tactics. We primarily focus on SEO for personal injury attorneys here, and while it’s cost effective, it probably should not be your only source for leads.