Learn more about the importance of referrals, and how they can help your
law firm and legal profession grow and generate business.
The world of marketing is changing at a high-speed page. However,
even with the latest technologies, one of its fundamental pillars
remains relevant to this day: referrals.
Let's start with the very basics. What is a referral? To put it simply, it is
the act of referring someone to a third party. For instance, if you are in
need of financial advice, your attorney might be able to refer you to a
Referrals are vital to professionals across various areas. In fact, they
are particularly significant for attorneys! In fact, some industry insiders
say that referrals are the best marketing tool available in the legal
How Can Attorneys and Legal Professionals Benefit From Referrals?
One of the best ways to increase the effectiveness of your referrals is
to establish great relationships with your clients. In other words,
happier customers might be more likely to recommend your services
to others in their local circles. A client who is satisfied with your work
will vouch for your skills, and it will refer you to others through word of
mouth, social media, and other means.
In some cases, referrals can be much more potent than traditional
advertisements. Consider this: would you rather trust a law firm
recommended by a close friend or one you saw on a billboard?
People tend to trust advice and suggestions coming from friends and
relatives. A positive experience can do so much the growth of your
Running Effective Referral Campaigns
In order to harness the full potential of referrals, you can't sit there and
hope your clients will spread the word. You need to encourage people
to refer you and reward them for doing so.
Many law firms offer exclusive perks to people who bring them referral
business. Some of these might include free billable hours or a lower
It's also critical to establish good communication outlets to reach
people with your referral campaigns. A good mailing list still works
wonders, but you can also harness the potential of other channels,
such as social media platforms. Getting people to refer your business
is only half the way to the top of the mountain. You need some extra
work to get to the top!
To increase your chances of getting great referrals, make it easy on
your customers to refer you. If the process of referral is clumsy and
complicated, your customers might not want to waste their time.
Remember to implement a process, to make sure that referring you is
as simple as possible.
Affiliate Referral Programs
Many professionals in the legal field use affiliate programs as a way to
secure more referrals. In most cases, good affiliate programs are a
"win-win" situation for all parties involved. Some affiliate marketing
programs enable people who refer your business to earn some unique
perks. In some cases, they can even earn a commission on the
business acquired through the referral.
It might seem strange to get more business from your competitors.
However, people in the legal field can be the best source for new
referrals out there. In fact, referrals in the legal industry do not just
come from happy customers. Networking with other professionals is
also very important. For example, other attorneys can be a great source
of referrals. This is a classic example of "you scratch my back; I
scratch yours." In this scenario, legal professionals help each other
out with mutual referrals.
Attorneys and other professionals in the legal field often collaborate.
They might have a referral agreement in place to support each other's
businesses. This also enables them to gain a higher flow of
Are Referrals Working Out For You?
If you want to make sure that your law firm's referral program is
working, it is important to track data and relevant information. Make
sure to note how expensive each referral acquisition is, and track
everything. This is the best way to make sure that your referral
program is actually paying back. A good management system is the
best way to keep track of your referrals. For best results, you'll need
something that goes beyond your average spreadsheet.
It might also be confusing to use the same management tools you use
for billing and case management. For this reason, creating a specific
system can be your best approach to avoid clutter. Most companies in
the legal field think it's crucial to build a management solution to keep
This process can help you keep track of your referrals and potential
business leads. Understanding where your clients come from is also a
great way to learn more about your referrals.
Don't be afraid to ask your clients how they learned about your
business! You can use a form or simply ask a question online, so you
can gather the data as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.
"How did you learn about our law firm?" is a simple, yet powerful
question. It could bring so much to your future marketing efforts, and
help you enhance your referral rates by further refining your strategy.
In conclusion, referrals are still a very important marketing tool in the
legal field. Whether you represent a law firm, or you are an
independent professional, you can grow your business organically
through clever referral systems in place. You should remember to
consider analytics carefully, so you can fully understand how your
business is benefiting from the referrals you’re getting, and whether
it’s worth your efforts.
Sources & References:
74 years ago yesterday (May 9, 1945), what was left of the German High Command formally surrendered to the Allies in Reims, France, ending the conflict in Europe and bringing to conclusion one of the most reprehensible and ruinous regimes in World History. On behalf of all those who died and were murdered, I join my Jewish Friends in praying and saying "Never Again."
In most countries around the world, the laws that are written as very clear – they are there in black and white, and there’s no room for interpretation. But as human beings, there is a constant need to ensure that things are correct, things are right, and things are as they should be.
This leads to a need for court rooms and judges, trials by jury, and a decision on guilt or innocence being made as an interpretation of the written laws weighed up against the actions of an individual.
In some cases, people have been convicted for crimes that in later years were deemed to not be crimes at all. For example, before California’s Proposition 64, the possession and use of marijuana was illegal in the state. In 2016, it became legal.
This simply meant that for those with prior convictions in relation to marijuana, they could have them struck from the record – an important move, as convictions of that nature could impact the opportunity to get a job.
Entering the Digital Era
The city of San Francisco had been digitizing its files since 1975, so it would seem to be a simple matter to flick a switch and update all the records that were held, quickly removing the convictions. Unfortunately, that’s not how digitization works.
What San Francisco (and many other cities) had stored was effectively a photograph of paper documents, viewable on a computer, but completely unreadable by a computer. To have a conviction removed, an individual must fill in the paperwork to begin the process, and that paperwork may not be simple at all.
San Francisco estimated that around 10,000 people could apply to this process, but by 2018 a total of 23 people had identified themselves. The city took matters into their own hands and spent a lot of time manually going through the documents and found 1230 eligible people (read more). There had to be a better way.
Through the use of optical character recognition (OCR), automation, and artificial intelligence, a program was devised that could process the digitized records and attempt to understand what they said. If a record included mention of a violent crime, the program discarded it as the individual would be ineligible. If there was any doubt about the content of a file, a human was notified for further input. But overall, the software ran itself and produced a result.
Within minutes, it was able to identify another 8000 people who were eligible to have their convictions cleared.
A judge signed them off in one go, and the criminal records of thousands of people were suddenly revised, opening new horizons for each one – and saving the city (and those individuals) a massive amount of work.
How does it work?
OCR has been around for quite a long time, but without the ability to understand, it is mostly useless for tasks of this nature. The ability for a machine to learn, and to thereby understand, gives the opportunity for thousands of documents to be processed by a tireless machine that doesn’t make mistakes in the same way that a human might. The AI industry is prone to calling these algorithms “robots”, as the dictionary definition of a robot includes “…that are able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically” – by reading and understanding, they are replicating what a human could do.
The artificial intelligence portion of such software allows true understanding and learning. In its simplest form, you could use a keyword search to determine if “violent crime” featured on any record, but the context is important. If the record stated, “this person has never been involved in violent crime”, it shouldn’t be discarded. If that sentence ends with, “until now”, then it should be discarded – machine learning allows these nuances to be understood.
In the California example, if there was serious doubt, a human was called in. It is unknown whether the human interaction allowed the algorithm to be updated – true machine learning would include the ability to make future judgments based on what was learned from how the human reacted.
The future of AI and Law
A precedent has now clearly been set that AI systems can analyze records and find convictions and flag them to be removed, but how far can it go?
Finding a jury that is truly impartial is always difficult, whereas a machine will be impartial by default. Could a program be developed that would be capable of reading court documents, understanding them, and producing a verdict immediately? More importantly, would the public trust such a machine?
It seems as if it is science fiction, but it is much closer to reality than you might think.
For many law practices, the ability to process large amounts of paperwork quickly would be truly beneficial. If a summary of a case could be produced within minutes rather than days, it would make the task so much easier. In fact, there are many services available today that will digitize and process business paperwork using software robots. Large companies that send paper bills to thousands of people (for example, credit card companies) already make use of this technology to process incoming payments – but that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Would a trained law practitioner have a better understanding of a case than a computer? Is there even a possibility that law practices could be replace by AI?
There are automated systems currently in place that issue tickets and fines for vehicles that are traveling above the legal speed limit. In some cases, these tickets have been overturned as the vehicle in question was moving out of the way, preventing an accident from happening – could machine learning help to prevent false positives like this? And if so, would it reduce the need for legal representation in such cases?
The legal system has come a long way in the last few decades, and the move towards digital devices is unstoppable. The question is, how far are you willing to trust them within a law practice, and would you have confidence in a courtroom under the jurisdiction of a robot judge? The technology is improving constantly, and it may only be a matter of time before this science fiction becomes science fact.
These are just small examples of AI and lawyers integrating but we will always need the human touch.
Be a Successful Lawyer: Understand The Law, The Lingo And How To Play The System
Hank Greenberg, former chairman of insurance giant AIG once said "All I want in life is a small unfair advantage." There’s no greater profession that this rings true than law. Whether you are an attorney or criminal lawyer, being the best in your profession means more clients, hence more bank.
However, you need to understand the law, whether you are a hotshot attorney based in Coral Gables, Florida, or you are a high-flying lawyer based in Atlanta, Georgia, or New York. The stakes are high to be the best.
Here is your unfair advantage.
Learn the Law Lingo
You have to be able to turn on your legalese to the maximum extent possible depending on your audience. Sounding as if you know what you are talking about may be about 60% of the real lawyer’s job. Still, take care to use the correct forms of address. For instance, use “Your Honor” when addressing the magistrates and always refer to your opponents as “the prosecution” or “the prosecutor” and never by name.
Always Anticipate An Appeal
Always work your case as though you are winning, but always anticipate an appeal. The whole point of a conviction appeal is not to retry your case. An appeal court is not the place for you to present your “new” evidence to determine whether your client lost fairly. An appeal court can only set aside its conviction for your case for one of the following three reasons: the verdict was irrational or couldn’t be sustained by the evidence; the judge made an error of law; or there was a flaw in justice on any grounds (basis).
For this reason, you need to keep track of any irregularities during the whole process that will help you fight your case in case it needs to move to a higher court. Keep an “error log” on which you keep track of all possible appellate before and during trial.
Work on Compelling Arguments
As Clarence Darrow said, "the best arguments are those in which you feel like you’re telling a story to the jury as you’re gathered round a campfire.” Emotionally based themes often serve as hook to create imprints for the jury that linger until the time the verdict is decided. So use emotional one-sentence themes and storytelling to make engaging and effective arguments. Also, be friendly. Do not be afraid to smile and do not turn your back on the jury.
Just like actors/actresses spend days, weeks even months getting ready for their roles especially if they have to use unfamiliar props like swords or guns, so should you, because the courtroom is your stage.
You say your trials aren’t like the ones on Court TV, so you are not bringing any ‘props’ into the courtroom? Oh yes, you will. Whether you know it or not, during a trial, you are handling a variety of props including the lectern where you place your legal pad. Every exhibit and demonstrative aid that you show the jury is a prop. Even the computer and the projector that you use to display images are props.
Introduce and use props, such as eyeglasses, cups, books, other paperwork or just using your hands to assist you in making your points to the jury. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your props before your next trial.