Law firms are increasingly catching on to the value of a good website and social media strategy for snapping up and retaining lawyer-to-lawyer referral work, according to a new global study.
The latest Martindale-Hubbell study examining the dynamics and importance of lawyer-to-lawyer referrals has found that 47 per cent of law firms across the world plan to significantly improve their websites in order to increase the level of work received from referrals and to protect the level of referral work they already receive.
As well as shaping up their online presence, 48 per cent of respondents reported taking action to leverage social media channels, with 12 per cent claiming they are taking significant action in this area.
The study found that lawyer-to-lawyer referrals represent a significant revenue stream for some law firms across the globe, with 26 per cent of those surveyed reporting that around 20 per cent of their annual revenue can be attributed to referrals.
Yet despite this, 27 per cent of survey participants reported that their law firm does not track where their referrals are coming from, and to where in turn they are sending referrals.
The study, commissioned by LexisNexis (also publisher of Lawyers Weekly) and conducted by independent strategic consultancy Fathom Consulting, surveyed 734 legal professionals from mid to large law firms across the globe.
It revealed that the majority of respondents believe they receive and give equal amounts of referrals to and from law firms - but the trend was more common in the United States (95 per cent) and less significant for lawyers surveyed outside of America (58 per cent).
Derek Benton, director of international operations at LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell, said the results indicate that referrals are a key revenue stream for law firms - especially following the global recession.
"Nearly half of all respondents expect referral revenues to remain the same over the next 12 months, but unsurprisingly many plan to take action to protect or increase the amount of referral work received," he said.
Still, Benton noted that referrals are predominantly being tracked through informal channels or non-structured discussions - except in the case of some large law firms that are leveraging their existing CRM systems to capture referral data.
Across the globe, the most significant types of work referred between firms are litigation and disputes (16 per cent of the referral market), general corporate work (15 per cent), M&A (12 per cent) and intellectual property (10 per cent).
A full copy of the report, Lawyer-to-Lawyer Referrals: A Global Perspective, is available here