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The 80/20 Law of Referrals for Lawyers

The Pareto principle says 80 percent of the results you get come from 20 percent of the things you do.

In other words 80 percent of the effect comes from 20 percent of the cause.

No, the numbers aren’t always exactly 80 and 20, so stop trying to poke holes, literal lawyers.

The point is that a disproportionate amount of the results you get comes from a small minority of the things you do.

How does the Pareto 80/20 principle apply to lawyers?

Having worked with countless attorneys on their marketing, I can tell you unequivocally that this principle applies to referrals, which generate the vast majority of business.

Around 80 percent of your referrals come from 20 percent of potential referral sources.

Think about that for a minute. That translates to a huge risk for the majority of lawyers who only have a handful of recurring referral sources. If you've got a half-dozen referral sources, maybe one of them is very productive for you.

And in most cases, if you're like most lawyers, you're doing less than you'd like to nurture these referral sources. And nothing at all to grow how many of them you have. I'm not saying that to be judgmental - I just know from talking to hundreds of lawyers that statistically, that's true.

And what's the consequence of having just one or two primary referral sources? What if he retires? What if she decides to move? What if there's an unfortunate accident involving an errant piano being hoisted by a rope?

Your business will be devastated.

In some practices, I’ve seen an attorney’s take-home pay drop by 70 percent. They still have to cover the same expenses, so that money comes straight out of their own pocket.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s opportunity here.

If you have a limited list of referral sources, it means you probably have diamonds right under your feet. That there are probably fellow professionals, former clients, and members of the community who have the potential to refer much more business than they are now.

You just haven't tapped into the business that's waiting for you.

It all boils down to asking two key questions.

How do I clone my best referral sources? And how do I identify what makes them refer?

We constantly work on these questions as part of the Practice Alchemy's "Referral Alchemy" program.

We ask them, again and again, because they're the first step to unlocking the referrals that are right in front of you. So we can help our members get more business from the people who already know, like and trust them.

Make this your homework.

If you want to start increasing your referral base right away, start by writing down all of your referral sources. Include those who refer regularly and those who might have referred once or twice during the past few years.

Now look at that list. How much of your business is dependent on just a few referral sources?

How can you clone them? What are you saying to them? What kind of marketing ensures that they keep sending referrals to you?

How do you grow that list of referral sources?

... Now of course, in just a few hundred words here I can't take you from A to Z on setting up a complete referral system. But progress to a higher-quality referral base always begins with asking these questions.

What are your answers?

Raj Jha