Expanding your database of attorneys should be a constant, ongoing process, and you should always recognize its importance. I like to maintain an actual computerized database, so I can do searches, BUT a rolodex and a brain can suffice for this purpose. The quality of your referrals will depend on the quality of this database. If you have one, make it better, if you don't have one to speak of, start one. It takes very little effort, and pays dividends almost immediately.
I have a few tips on building the database:
1. Be a card COLLECTOR, more than a card giver. We all go to functions, lawyer functions, meetings, family events, parties. The tendency for many lawyers is to "look for business", and give out cards. Of course you should seize opportunites to give your card and try to make connections, but the real opportunites at functions is expanding your database and collecting cards. Want to make a real connection with a fellow attorney who you have just met? Ask what they do, ask them questions about it, and ask them this question "What kind of cases should I refer you?" When you get their card, make notes on it (discreetly, after they walk away, we don't want to be wierdo stalkers here).
2. Make updates and corrections promptly. We all get notices of new offices and affiliations....update your database, you want it to be accurate when you need it.
3. If you know lawyers who seem to know a lot of lawyers, do not hesitate to call and ask them for referrals......So many times I have called lawyers like this and said "Who do you like for a ______case in ______County". I always assure the attorney that I will tell the specialist where the lead came from......this type of thing is OUR currency. It should be obtained with passion, and circulated, not saved.
Incidentally, I referred to cases being in _____ County. I am always interested in the location and venue of a potential case and the various players.....more on this tomorrow.....