Thursday, May 12, 2005

How not to get cases referred to you

Last week I posted a comment about befriending your competitor which you can find by clicking here. It discussed how you can generate business from someone who may be a competitor in your city or region.

Today's comment addresses what happens after a case is referred by my office to another firm as co-counsel or as lead counsel. The referral may happen because of that Firm's stated expertise in a certain area of the law, or a conflict at my office, or any number of reasons. I consider my firm a market maker - that is, we generate many cases each year. Often, I may call a lawyer about referring not one, but many of a particular type of case. When the cases are referred, I may act as in house counsel asking for information from time to time on a regular basis.

So, if you want to obtain a referral, and you want to screw up the relationship and perhaps never do business again, just follow this set of guidelines:

1.Don't timely return my calls. After all, I'm the guy who spent the time to investigate the case.

2.Don't timely return the calls of our mutual client. There is nothing I like more than having to address a client who is in the dark about a case in the hands of co-counsel. I also enjoy having a client tell me that co-counsel has been called "X times" without a return call.

3.Don't keep me informed on the progress of litigation. As part of my referral agreement, I ask that co-counsel update me every 90 days. It may simply be an email that says "depositions are upcoming. " Even though that is told up front, it may not be followed.

4.Don't tell me either the good or the bad as to settlement prospects. There is nothing I like better than getting a closed file letter on a case I was told would perhaps settle to the client's benefit.

5.Don't bother to follow up.

6.Forget to include me on any pleadings. I always insist on this.

7. Treat me as if the case referred by me, which I believe or know to be significant, isn't.

In general, if you can follow all of the "dont's" when it comes to clients in your own office with me, you're set. That way, you won't have to worry about getting any more potential cases from my office.