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Best Practice: Law firm marketing and the importance of lawyer referrals

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the owner of an estate planning firm in Oklahoma City. I have four associates that work for me in addition to two billable paralegals and three staff support members. I am looking for ways to improve our business development and marketing. The majority of our business comes from past client referrals and referrals from employees and friends. We spend a considerable amount on advertising which includes our website, print ads, collateral materials, newsletters, etc. We would like to do more to increase client business. I would appreciate your thoughts?

A. I find it interesting that you did not mention referrals from other lawyers. I have many estate planning/elder law clients that receive a major portion of their clients from referrals from other lawyers. This should be a key component of your marketing plan. Your business development and marketing efforts should address this potential referral source. You should be investing targeted time:

  • With bar and other legal associations
  • Networking with other lawyers
  • Writing articles for law related professional journals and publications
  • Presenting CLE programs
  • Bulking up your expertise - professional bio, credentials, and certifications

Review your website and see if it speaks to both your individual clients (mom and pop clients) as well as professional referral sources such as other lawyers.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, ( is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA listserver, which John and other committee members review, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at

Posted on March 2, 2016 by Chris Bonjean
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