How Outside General Counsel Can Increase Referrals

Simon Ginsberg
Simon Ginsberg

For those of us that help companies go about their daily legal routine, referrals lead to the majority of new clients.  If this is the case in your practice, it makes sense to think about how to maximize your referral network.

The best referrals come from people that know and work with you – the longer the relationship the better.  This is no surprise since clients want competence and trustworthiness – qualities only vetted over time or via trusted referral.

If you represent organizations, chances are you communicate with only a few people within that company.  What if you could increase that number?

Increasing your contact points within an organization can increase new client leads in two ways.  First, the more people that know the quality of your work, the larger your relevant network.  Second, as those people rotate out of the organization, they can recommend your services to their new employer.

There are basically three ways to increase your referral reach.

First, include more people at your client meetings, dinners and events.  Include subordinates and team members.  Make the get togethers interesting.  Some clients get taken out to fancy dinners so much, they want something low key – ask them.  For example, some of my friends tell me they can’t stand steak dinners anymore and hate fancy restaurants, after being traumatized by the daily investment banking entertainment grind.

Second, you can formalize your communications to increase your reach.  Don’t forget to ask permission from your key contacts first.  Following up with helpful articles or your own generated relevant ideas, for example.  Setting aside an hour or two a week for this can help.  It doesn’t have to be frequently, but it should be more than a holiday card and less than once a month for non-active clients.

Third, use technology to integrate into client workflows.  For example, if you are an outside corporate counsel, having a solid contract management platform where you are in the process flow, can extend your reach within the organization and generate work from people that normally don’t communicate with you.

On the platform for instance, general counsel can generate templates, documents packages, notices and amendments and take care of the execution.  Clients can also include the outside lawyer into workflows.

For example, if there is a legal bottleneck due to an abnormally high sales volume, the outside general counsel could take a first look at a fixed cost, to temporarily reduce the corporate workload and speed the sales cycle for the client.

These approval requests could come from legal, heads of sales, HR etc.  The point being that you increase your contact points.  As discussed above, increasing those contact points can geometrically increase your referrals down the road as people switch jobs.

Finally, remember that building a business from referrals takes time.  Be patient, be consistent.  Spend time each week cultivating your network.  This process takes years, not weeks.

Good luck!

Simon Ginsberg, Esq.

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