Generating referrals is an important part of any law firm’s business development strategy. Now, there’s increasing competition within the domestic and international legal domains.
Twenty years ago, many domestic firms would say that their number 1 market competition, are other domestic firms within their immediate space.
Globalisation and the rise of BIGLaw and the BIG 4, have fundamentally changed the legal market for many top-tier domestic firms over the years. Many clients have become more international and their needs for legal advice crosses borders.
Today, if you asked domestic firms who their biggest competition was they would likely say the BIGLaw (Dentons, Clifford Chance) and the BIG 4 (EY, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG).
So how can law firms take back and improve relationships with their domestic clients?
One effective way is by building and managing an international support network. This allows firms to win cross border work from the clients and win work through an international network.
By using a networking or CRM platform designed for lawyers, you can build and manage your firm’s relationships. It makes it easier for law firms to collaborate and engage with their referral partners on a global level.
You can use NEXL to improve every aspect of your law firm relationships, from referral tracking and relationship building. It can act as a channel for lawyers and the firm to promote expertise, share practice updates and meet new clients.
Generate more business by building stronger referral relationships and participating in a collaborative community. All the while, eliminate operational barriers that stand in your way.
How to stay relevant in a globalised economy
Independent firms around the world have one common problem: borders. A geographical limitation can limit your offering to your clients who are looking to transact across borders.
All client needs for cross border advice is growing year on year. Today, many clients seek help from large international firms who have established offices. These firms are likely to be your international domestic competitors within your jurisdiction.
It is time to win those clients back.
So how do you win cross border work and stay relevant to your clients in today’s economy?
Focus on relationships between independent firms, and execute an international strategy for your firm.
A centralised approach
The first step to implementing your strategy is to understand your relationships better. Then drive a centralised approach throughout your entire firm.
Be clear who your international referral partners are. Make sure your lawyers use the right referral partners for your clients and firm.
This has been known to be a challenge because of a lack of proper systems.
However, a tool like NEXL can be a solution. You can build a centralised directory of all your firm’s referral partners.
- Advanced search functions to always find the right relationship firm for your clients.
- Take full control over your firm’s referral relationships.
- Track and review your referral network to ensure it is working.
Understand your referral activities
Are you aware of how much work you refer to other law firms?
You need to track your referrals in order to identify opportunities or improvements to build on them.
]Use a system that provides you with deep, multi-dimensional, data-driven insights on referral traffic to and from your referral relationships.
Using a CRM like NEXL provides a detailed overview of relationships, connections and a flow of work between key referral partners and law firm relationships.
It does this with incoming and outgoing referral tracking and identifying connections. It can track relationship development in a frictionless and systematic way, to make referral management as simple as sending an email.
For decision making and strategy development, lawyers need a comprehensive referral tracking tool, that is combined with best-practice business workflows and rich analytics.
Reward strong relationships and identify those that aren’t delivering. Track leakage to non-relationship firms.
Improve project management more generally, and drive a centralised approach with your referral strategy.
Referral and relationship tracking is an essential part of every successful international strategy.
Here’s how an easy-to-use referral tracking system can help you with all of our firm’s referral activities:
- Track incoming, outgoing, successful and unsuccessful referrals – stop leakage to competitors and non-relationship firms
- Increase the visibility of your referral activities.
- Get the data you need to make better referral decisions
An easier way to track referrals
It can be difficult to retrieve referral data, that’s necessary for better understanding your referral relationships.
Today, most firms use spreadsheets and manual data entry to try to capture this information.
The results? No data, no tracking, no centralised approach and no improvements made to the referral strategy.
Busy lawyers don’t have the time to manually enter this information. They either choose not to do it or simply forget about it.
A better alternative is to use an Outlook-based integrated system that turns emails into valuable referral data.
With NEXL, your data is automatically populated, so you can easily analyse and ensure the best return outcomes on your relationships:
- Track referrals with a single click.
- Capture more referral data for better management of relationships and deeper insights.
Never miss an opportunity
One of the key factors for driving more referrals is building stronger, long-term referral relationships with carefully chosen law firms.
Lawyers need to be consistent with their networking efforts and stay in touch with their firm’s referral sources who offer the most valuable relationships.
The challenge? The time and effort it takes to nurture relationships with the right people, on a regular basis.
Instead of risking missed opportunities or wasted time, lawyers need to consider a relationship management tool. This is a strategy for encouraging and supporting lawyers with their networking goals.
A contact relationship manager that automatically reminds lawyers to reach out to important contacts will take off some of the pressure.
A manager that also gives you deep insights into specific relationships will mean you always know which contacts to focus on. Advanced relationship profiles of your contacts will allow you to centrally store all key information in one easy access point.
Never again miss a referral opportunity by staying top of mind with your network.
Grow your international client base
Building a network based on your current clients’ international needs allows you to grow your international client base. When you grow stronger referral relationships, your firm will become a key strategic partner within your domestic market, increasing the amount of work you receive from your network’s clients.
A successful international strategy should focus on both generating more incoming referrals from your network and keeping up with your clients’ growing demand for cross border advice.
By tracking your relationships and referral activity, you will be able to drive better reciprocity throughout your network, which will increase your international client base.
Review your key relationships and activity at least every quarter to identify new opportunities to grow your network and win more clients. Without a system of data collection, there is nothing to review or “data mine” further.