Shared Law Office Space is a great incubator for referral relationships. Keep in mind, the client is the most important party to the referral.
For attorneys, especially solo attorneys and small law firms, referrals from colleagues often represent at least 50% of annual income. Even if your referral percentage is smaller, referral income is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, referrals from other attorneys are often a sure thing.
Because they are vetted!
The referring attorney often has a pre-existing relationship with the client and is referring the case because they may not be familiar with a particular area of law.
Maximizing referral relationships is essential to economic success. If you work in a shared law office space with a disparate group of attorneys, it can be as easy as walking around and getting to know your neighbors. If you work from home, it may take a little more effort, but it is necessary.
One of the most important axioms in any referral relationship is to make sure the receiving attorney is a good fit for the client!
When you refer a case to another attorney, your reputation with the client is on the line. This holds true for both the receiving attorney and for potential clients that may emerge from the developing referral relationship.
It is imperative that you remember that the client is the most important person in the relationship.
Know the recipient’s reputation in the community.
Find out how they relate to clients. Are they no-nonsense, tell-it-like it is counselors or do they take more of an empathetic consultative approach with clients?
Know their lawyering style.
For example, don’t send a client to a divorce attorney who has a reputation for being a “killer” when all they want is a low key mediation.
Know something about the receiver’s rates and billing style.
Are they high rate billers? Are they low rate, slow billers? Do they review every nuance of a client’s matter, whether necessary or not (and on the client’s dime), or are they efficient about their work? Do they offer flat-fee billing? Are they amenable to payment plans?
If a client doesn’t know what they prefer, make them choose.
If the client is unsure about their needs or preferences, provide the client with information about the recipient’s style and let the client choose. Armed with enough information to make an informed decision, if the referral ends up not being a good fit, you will bear less responsibility for making an improper recommendation.