Referral Marketing for Lawyers: 10 Simple Strategies For 2024
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Referral marketing lets you leverage word-of-mouth to generate high-quality leads. It’s a sound initiative that should be a part of your law firm’s marketing.

Why?

Well, people tend to trust products and services referred by a peer — be it a family member, colleague, or friend. This makes it an easier decision for them to hire you rather than other law firms they only found online. 

However, referral marketing for lawyers is tricky business. Especially if the only referrals you ever got are from previous clients who referred your business of their own accord. 

Read on to learn proven law firm referral marketing strategies that will get clients knocking on your door.

Law Firm Referral Marketing Statistics

What does the data say about referral marketing for lawyers?

Let’s look at the top facts:

Referral marketing is perhaps the best way to generate law firm leads, but it’s not easy. 

A successful referral marketing campaign takes time, resources, and a lot of patience. Of course, you also need to implement the right strategies to get people talking about your law firm. 

10 Top Law Firm Referral Marketing Strategies

Here are the top 10 law firm referral marketing strategies you can use to land more high-quality leads.

1. Make it Easy For Clients to Refer You

Satisfied clients are more than willing to refer your business to someone who needs legal services. 

The only problem is, you never asked for referrals. 

This roadblock in the referral marketing process is often overlooked. Fortunately, it’s also easy to overcome. 

Verbally asking clients for referrals is a step in the right direction. But a more efficient strategy is to publish an easy-to-use referral form for a quicker and more convenient process. 

Check out this example from Modern Law

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The best thing about referral forms is, you don’t need to be a client to refer someone. Anyone who is familiar with your law firm or the cases you’ve handled can make referrals. 

2. Leverage Social Proof

Generating social proof and referral marketing have a symbiotic relationship. 

Social proof, such as reviews, video testimonials, and star ratings, will send new referrals your way. And the more referrals you get, the easier it is to generate more social proof. 

You can get the flywheel going by focusing on getting reviews on social media and business directories. Your Google Business Profile, for example, is the perfect place to get positive reviews as it has a chance to appear in search engine results. 

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Below are some tips to get more reviews on your Google Business Profile: 

  • Share a review link to your Google Business Profile (on your law firm’s website, socials, etc.).
  • Promptly ask clients to leave reviews. 
  • Respond to all reviewers.

Social proof in itself can be a great source of referral leads. At the same time, it can boost the conversion rate of leads that come across your website. 

You just need to make sure that they’re visible and presented in a compelling fashion — like these client testimonial videos on Caputo & Van Der Walde

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3. Incentivize Client Referrals

Freebies give potential referrers an extra push to bring in more leads for your law firm

The tricky part is coming up with incentives that will spring them into action. 

For most law firms, the answer is usually a cash gift, voucher code, or any other form of financial reward. 

Just be sure to include clear terms. For example, referrers will only receive incentives after a certain time period if they refer someone who actually hired you. 

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4. Send Automated Referral Requests via Email

With the right tactics, email could be the most valuable asset in your law firm referral marketing strategy. 

That’s because emails can be automated based on clients’ actions, like subscribing to your newsletter, submitting a contact form, or completing a consultation. You can also automatically broadcast referral request emails on a timed basis. 

Best of all, creating automated email workflows is easier than ever. 

Email marketing platforms like GetResponse, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp feature drag-and-drop automation builders that will only take minutes to learn. They also include customizable automation templates, shaving off a ton of time from the workflow creation process. 

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There are a few things you should remember when creating referral request emails:

  • Keep it short. Get straight to the point and mention in the email’s subject line and body that you need referrals. 
  • Showcase your incentives. Highlight referral incentives by inserting promotional graphics, using larger fonts, or mentioning the freebie in your subject line. 
  • Include a link to your referral form. Finish strong with a CTA and link to your referral program’s landing page. 

5. Attend and Speak at Bar Association Events

Providing splendid service isn’t the only way to impress people and get referrals. 

Even if they don’t need your services, people will still refer you if they’re 100% confident in your law practice — including other lawyers. 

That’s why bar association events are a goldmine of referral leads. 

They present an opportunity to connect with other legal professionals, build your reputation, and forge mutually beneficial relationships. Agreeing to swap leads that match each other’s practice areas is one example. 

Speaking at an event, of course, boosts your chances of earning referrals from the legal community. 

You can look at bar association websites to learn more about their registration process for aspiring speakers. For example, the North Carolina Bar Association requires a call with their CLE team, a professional web page, and your final presentation drafts — among other requirements. 

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6. Sponsor Local Community Events

Sponsoring successful local events is a surefire way to get the local community talking about your business. This will not only help you gain referrals, but also raise brand awareness, bolster relationships with local businesses, and get law firm leads outright. 

Here are some event ideas you could try:

  • Seminars/Webinars and workshops
  • Fundraising activities
  • Roundtable discussions
  • Charity events
  • Pro bono breakfasts

Feel free to borrow ideas from other law firms — be it on their website or marketing materials. A great example would be this free educational workshop flier by Castle Wealth Group Legal, which contains all the details you need to figure out to plan your event.

To make the costs more manageable, partner with a local business or organization that can help plan, manage, and promote the event. Your firm can also arrange partnerships with local suppliers for your event. This includes caterers, venue decorators, and entertainment suppliers.

7. Be Active on Social Media

Maintaining an active presence on social media generates a steady supply of social proof, leads, and referrals. 

Remember, effective social media marketing for law firms requires an elaborate strategy. You don’t just set up a Facebook page, set a profile image, share some posts, and expect prospective clients to come flooding in. 

Pay attention to the following steps to create a healthy and profitable social media presence for your firm:

  • Craft a documented social media policy for your team
  • Define SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) social media goals
  • Create a social media content strategy
  • Interact with your social media audience

Social media is also a powerful promotion channel for your referral program. This can be directed to past clients, prospects, and other attorneys. 

For your reference, here’s a referral program promotion on Instagram by Leah Wise Law Firm:

8. Track Highest Converting Referral Sources

Regardless of size, any law firm is capable of executing a referral marketing campaign. After all, simple tactics like in-person referrals don’t require any system or software at play — just ask existing clients upfront for referrals if they end up being happy with your services. 

But if you’re serious about referral marketing and want to reap its full benefits, you need a data-driven approach. 

Use streamlined referral management systems to track the performance of individual campaigns and advocates (referral partners) in your referral network. This lets you identify which strategies are actually working so you can prioritize them. At the same time, you can diagnose low-performing referral marketing campaigns to either find improvement opportunities or discontinue them altogether.  

Tools like Referral Factory and ReferralCandy automatically track metrics like referral sales, revenue, and traffic per source. They also provide other tools that consolidate and streamline your referral marketing efforts, like a landing page builder, third-party integrations, and ready-to-use campaign templates.

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9. Network with Other Attorneys

There are other ways to build lucrative referral relationships with lawyers outside of bar association events. 

Don’t forget that, in terms of credibility, none are better at bringing leads to your law firm than other attorneys themselves. 

You have plenty of options when it comes to networking with other lawyers. Some of the best ones include:

  • Attending legal networking events
  • Participating in online legal forums
  • Host legal workshops
  • Build lawyer relationships through social media
  • Connect with legal professionals at the courthouse

It may take a while for you to plan your next legal networking move. For now, start with online communities like The Law Community by Clio, legal groups on LinkedIn, and subreddits like r/LawFirm.  

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10. Establish Your Thought Leadership in The Legal Industry 

Thought leadership is difficult to attain, especially in a landscape as competitive as the legal industry. But once you succeed, referrals will come to you naturally — from clients and other legal professionals who want to be associated with your firm. 

You need to be an expert and have unique perspectives on pressing topics to be a thought leader. Here’s how Adam Grant puts it:

Animalz provides a brilliant framework below on how to create stellar thought leadership content. As a lawyer, you can consider starting with counter narrative opinions (if that sounds like you!) Or may be, if you have interesting stories, then go the personal narratives route.

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How to Launch a Referral Marketing Program for Your Law Firm

Now that you’re familiar with the top referral marketing strategies, here’s a quick recap of everything you should do to get started. 

Step 1: Provide Excellent Customer Service

Effective referral marketing begins and ends with your clients. 

Hopefully, your customer service doesn’t revolve around squeezing clients for referrals. If your main goal for communicating with past clients is to get more leads, you got it all backwards. 

Focusing on extending your legal services beyond active representation. Be ready to answer follow-up questions, assist with additional processes, and provide valuable information through ongoing content marketing

Below are some actionable tips:

  • Hire someone qualified to respond to clients via phone or email
  • Provide multiple ways for prospects and clients to reach you
  • Actively reach out to prospects and clients to get to know them better
  • Return calls and emails ASAP
  • Leverage software like chatbots, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, ticketing systems, and email marketing tools to iron out inefficiencies

Step 2: Establish a Solid Referral Process With The Right Tools

Referral marketing can be overwhelming, especially if you split your focus over multiple referral sources. 

If you have the budget, invest in referral marketing tools to consolidate your efforts. Ideally, you should get an all-in-one referral marketing platform like ReferralCandy, Referral Factory, and Influitive. 

Here are a few additional tools you could use:

  • Refersion
  • Friendbuy
  • CoSchedule (for tracking and managing social media)
  • Birdeye (for managing reviews)

Step 3: Build Relationships With Other Professionals

Relationships with other legal professionals are invaluable for referrals. 

Unlike referring clients and other non-lawyer individuals, other attorneys are already well-connected in the legal industry. Leverage their sphere of influence to attract and convert leads into paying clients. 

Check out the following tips to build relationships with other professionals:

  • Follow and engage their content on social media
  • Join social media groups and online forums
  • Answer questions in Q&A websites 
  • Launch collaborative influencer marketing campaigns
  • Publish an interview with an expert

Step 4: Track Your Referrals and Share Your Success With Clients

Tracking referrals will help improve your strategy over time. More importantly, it will keep you in the loop with what people are saying.   

You should be the first to know whenever someone mentions you on social media or writes a review about your firm. 

Make an effort to respond to reviews regardless if they’re positive or negative. Doing so not only enhances the customer service experience, but also builds a better and more client-focused brand image. 

Lastly, tracking your referrals is a great way to stockpile social proof. Share your success with new clients to win them over. 

Referral Marketing Strategy Fine-Tuned to Your Law Firm

The world of law firms is a high-stakes industry.  

With so much on the line, people tend to look for recommendations and confirmation from their peers as well as authoritative figures they trust.

That’s why referral marketing is so important. It allows you to essentially borrow other people’s credibility to win the trust of potential clients. 

Let us help you build the perfect digital marketing strategy for your firm that builds a sustainable leads engine. Get in touch with your goals, and we’ll take it from there!