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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lawyers Not Behaving Badly

By Scott R. Forcino, Esq.

Legal Editor

This month I had the pleasure of examining a Networking Forum that spans the globe. You might think that lawyers speaking in many tongues would be confusing but there is a collaborative effort in place.

The ILN (International Lawyers Network) Regional Meeting of the Americas took place this summer. It was reported that the Network has almost 90 firms, with approximately 5,000 lawyers. As the Network has grown dramatically, its focus has moved from being one of only referral development to one where the ILN looks to help member firms to expand the reach of their firms. Lowell noted that this would be a theme throughout the Regional Meeting of the Americas and said that as the ILN works towards implementing a strategic plan for thenext few years, having an international link that can be used for marketing and as a real tool for clients will be important.

Then came a discussion of the referral activities of the Network. It was noted that referrals are an
important component of the ILN, and a discussion of the referral report is a way to understand some of their value.

The most recent referral report covered the period of January to July 2008, which showed an increase in referrals.

It was stated, however, that it is still difficult to obtain accurate referral information, but said that the report serves
as a gauge to show a continual increase across all regions. It was also stated that inter-regional referrals continue tobe the most active, which reinforces the importance of regional meetings. It was estimated that
the figures are under-reported by at least three times based on his conversations with members about referrals
that are never officially reported. Yikes..

Corporate referrals remain the highest category of types that are referred, followed by litigation, tax, labor and employment and real estate.

The monetary value of the referrals is a difficult number to assess, as many of the reported referrals show only the initial estimate, which is often very low. The ILN doesn’t have a method for capturing the future value of the referral as of yet, and so the majority of the referrals appear in the smaller valued bracket. The total valued is also believed to be under-reported, and a conservative estimate is that the total referrals could be $7.5-$10 million per six monthperiod.

Keeping track of referrals, especially in the larger firms, is very difficult and members are asked to work closely with the contact person at their firm to ensure that the firm has some knowledge of thereferrals that are occurring.

The offices of the ILN can offer to the members, another service, which is a referral from a lawyer that obtained a judgment in a community and needed to enforce the judgment in four or five locations. One method of handling this would be to go to each of the ILN contacts there and asking each of them to handle it, but a more effective way of handling this is to go directly to ILN, itself, and have it delegated appropriately.

ILN would simplify the process by getting those locations squared away and ensuring that the job gets done,
acting as the facilitator on a multi-jurisdictional problems.

The ILN officers had visited over 20 firms in 2007/2008, which he noted is a very important part of its recruitment.

The response is tremendous, even at firms who are knowledgeable about the ILN, because it gives the partners a chance to sit down with the organization.

It should be added that the referral request is a six month snapshot, as an example, a referral will come in and will develop only $5,000 worth of fees by the time the request is circulated, but could turn into $150,000 matter over the next year. The referral report doesn’t capture to what extent the referrals lead to additional business from that client or relationship and that the ILN has worked to come up with different ways to capture the data. The ILN
Administration can accept referral reports at any time and reflect that approximately 20% of the referrals lead to ongoing client relationships, which is a significant amount.

Another way that ILN members are beginning to use the offices of the Administration is to market their services to existing or potential clients to show the global reach of their firm through the ILN. The Administration has been contacted by firms who are having client meetings and would like to express the capabilities of member firms in the jurisdictions where their client does business. When contacted in this regard, the ILN Administration will contact the relevant firms in the group to get the information.

The ILN is proud of their website, saying that it’s a source that all ILN members use, in addition to
their partners and the outside public. Currently, the website has 50,000 hits a month, which is quite substantial.

The statistics that the Administration gets allows them to see which pages people are visiting, and these include
membership information such as the practice areas of firms, as well as the articles that members contribute to the
newsletters. These articles continue to be referenced every day, every month, and even years after the article is
written when the subject becomes relevant again.

This is a powerful, far-reaching organization of lawyers designed and implemented for the benefit of the legal community and their clients.

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1 comment:

Jos said...

Zincastle Software has a fantastic package which they call Relate2Profit. It measures exactly the value of the referrals given and received.I am absolutely positive about the web-application.
Jos Esers

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