The Danger Zone of Referrals

In early conversations with my attorney clients, I always ask, “What’s your strategy for bringing in more new clients every month?”

The vast majority of them say personal referrals.

For seasoned attorneys with a stellar reputation and network, passive referrals from existing clients, previous clients and even other attorneys can be a great source of new clients coming in the door.

For newer attorneys, or those who have just “hung their shingle” in recent years, who are still in the honeymoon phase of their practice, asking for personal referrals can bring in an initial wave of clients to get things moving.

But eventually the hammer drops…


The reality of personal referrals is they have limitations. The size of your network or size of the city where you practice can get “tapped out,” or at least not keep up with the pace you’re looking to grow.

In fact, the majority of my clients, when they first come to me, have been quite successful in growing their practice to a certain level solely from referrals.

They’re quite proud of the fact that because of the great work they’ve done, that clients and other attorneys are happy to send them new business. And that is definitely nothing to sneeze at.

Organic growth is great, in any business. Heck, it doesn’t cost anything, other than the sweat equity of your previous work and solid reputation.

However, organic growth in any business, and I’m talking about your referrals here, always has a ceiling.

Once these attorneys come to me, they admit referrals have topped out, and they realize the old adage is true in growing their practice to the next level:

What got you here won’t get you there.


Once they get honest with themselves (and me) about their situation, that’s when we can dive in and find out quickly whether or not we’re a fit to work together.

Because if you’ve crossed the threshold of maxed out referrals and are feeling confused or overwhelmed on what to do next, it’s usually time to take a step back and implement a new strategy.

The common challenges I’ve heard from my attorney clients:


  • No predictability of new clients in the door.
  • You can’t just instantly generate more personal referrals when you need more clients.
  • Rollercoaster revenue cycles.
  • Uncertainty around hiring support staff, due to unpredictable revenue. A chicken and egg scenario.
  • Asking for referrals can feel uncomfortable.

So once you’ve emptied the tank by asking your current clients, other attorneys and friends for referrals, what then?


“Mike, how can I build a more robust pipeline of new clients walking in the door so I can reliably grow my practice?”


Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you know that the tectonic plates in our economy, including the legal profession, have gone through massive shifts in the past 10-15 years.

With this shift to the hyper-connected and “always-on” digital world we live in, those who have technological savvy (or have an expert who is) have proven alternatives for sourcing new client leads on demand.

A must-use strategy for growth is digital marketing.



If done right, a digital client acquisition system can be a consistent source of new consultations with prospective clients. Everybody loves a full pipeline of new business.

Rather than continuously casting your fishing line into the same shrinking pond of referrals, hitting bottom, and thinking, “Now what?” – the right client generation system can and should yield a steady stream of inbound client leads.

It becomes your asset – one you can confidently rely on every month – and will grow and evolve in lockstep with your practice growth.

Open and Close the Valve at Will


  • Incoming leads.
  • A full prospect pipeline.
  • A steady stream of new client prospects.

Whatever you want to call it, this is a must-have asset that any practice owner truly serious about growth knows they need to have in place.

But what good is a system that you cannot customize to fit the growth trajectory of your practice?

That’s the beauty of the right client generation system that’s been proven, has the right mechanisms and is run by experts. The system is like a “valve” that can be opened and closed as needed.

You are in command of producing as many new client leads as you need, without feeling like you’re drinking from the fire hose. This way you’re not wasting your marketing investment on client leads you don’t have the time or infrastructure to keep up with.

Pretty cool, right?

The Digital Relationship


The rules for establishing digital relationships are very real, and you have to take them seriously for success. Establishing one is about building trust, positioning yourself as an expert that can help solve specific problems, connecting with new potential clients online and then inviting them to schedule a consultation with you.

This method gets ideal clients “pre sold” on hiring you, as they’ve already seen you as an authority in your given practice area and market. That’s another key component of any great client generation program, the fact that the “first touch” with any prospective client positions YOU as the best choice out there.

There’s a lot more detail to cover, but suffice it to say, perceived authority ALWAYS sells better than being lumped in as a “me-too” legal service provider. Commodities get price shopped and their value gets eroded over time.

You’ve got enough competition, and you need a way to stand above the sea of sameness.

The New & the Old


If this sounds like a whole new way of looking at your practice growth, you’re right. But that doesn’t mean stop doing what you’re already doing now.

Referrals will still flow. Networking with other attorneys and building your local reputation (a long term asset) is great– just make sure you add digital marketing into the mix if you’re looking to grow quicker.

A client generation system that incorporates leading edge digital marketing strategies (which are constantly evolving) coupled with authority positioning is like a high-octane fuel you can put into the growth engine of your practice.

In my experience, and that of my best clients, this type of “fuel” produces revenue growth faster than any other method out there.

With one caveat:

Work With Specialists – NOT GENERALISTS.


Some law practices and attorneys I speak with have already tried digital marketing with little success. Many downright lost money and felt taken advantage of by the so called “experts” they worked with.” They promised them the moon and never delivered.

They admit, and rightly so, that they are extremely skeptical and fearful of trusting any other “marketing people” again.

Totally understandable!

“Once bitten twice shy,” as the hit song goes.

But there’s a catch 22:


They KNOW they need to market themselves in order to grow, but the fear and skepticism holds them back.

But that’s like going out to a restaurant, getting food poisoning (an awful experience), recovering and saying “Well, that was awful. I’m never going out to eat anywhere again!”

It definitely sucks – Experts who promise the moon and never delivered, all while continuing to bill them every month. The attorneys and practices are basically held hostage under a long contract, with no way out.

And that is the biggest pitfall of all to avoid – the mistake of working with marketing “generalists” that dabble in tons of different industries. They’re basically taking on anyone with a wallet. An mile wide and an inch deep.

But without specializing, how could they ever develop the chops and a proven system to deliver great results to attorneys and law practices?

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel:


What you want is to engage an experienced client generation team that specializes in helping law practices with proven systems that can start delivering results in the first month.

If a client generation system is already producing successful results for clients in other cities, as it is in my case, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

It’s simply a matter of hiring the experts, letting them plug in a proven campaign that works from day 1, eliminating any and all guesswork, and not wasting valuable time and money.

If you’d like to learn how the Authority Advantage™ client generation system will reliably fill your calendar with a steady stream of new consultations for your practice, I invite you to reach out to me and schedule some time to chat.

CLICK HERE to schedule a free, no-obligation strategy session to see if your practice might be a fit.