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Reza Breakstone is an Associate with Breakstone, White & Gluck, a boutique plaintiffs’ firm based in Massachusetts. While the firm’s attorneys are focused exclusively on personal injury and malpractice, Breakstone notes that their strong reputation means that clients often seek them out for a wide range of other legal issues.
“It feels good to be the first phone call for help,” he says, but points out that the firm’s specialization can result in a referral to another attorney. “They come to us hoping we can help them,” Breakstone adds. “But if we can’t, we’ll place them with someone who can.”
That’s not to say that Breakstone and his colleagues just crack open a phonebook to find referral attorneys. “The ability to vouch for the person and to place someone with an attorney I know is key,” he explains. In fact, the firm has a large network of lawyers with personal connections to the attorneys in Breakstone, White & Gluck. This allows the firm to help out a lot of people, despite its specialization.
And even though it means turning away business, the right referral can still provide immense benefits. Breakstone is quick to point out that, if you give the client a good referral, they’re probably going to remember that it came from you—which opens the door for potential business from that client (or their friends) later on.
The same holds true, of course, for a poor referral. So, you may want to take a page out of Breakstone’s playbook and stick to only referring clients to attorneys you know well.
Breakstone also reveals that “I don’t know” is still a good answer if he doesn’t have a lawyer in his personal network to refer a client to. In those instances, he simply directs the client to an online resource, like the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service.
Or, he says, a client can read some online reviews.
Breakstone isn’t shy about encouraging people to use an internet search to find an attorney. “It’s how a lot of people find us,” he says. Indeed, the firm has a strong online presence that’s bolstered by reviews from past clients.
But an online attorney search isn’t without peril.
“Attorneys are being subject to online reviews like a restaurant,” he quips, mentioning that that’s not necessarily a good thing. Breakstone says that clients can be hoodwinked by dubious marketing tactics—including potentially fake online reviews.
So what’s the secret to create a strong, credible online review? Breakstone alludes to authenticity.
“There’s a big difference between ‘I hired this lawyer, he’s great’ and ‘Attorney Breakstone took my case, I had X injury, we worked together for X time…’ That’s a much more credible review.”
And he also points out that attorneys should always be cognizant of future reviews, stating flatly “you always want to be at the top of your game because you could be subject to a [potentially negative review].”
In an increasingly competitive legal marketplace, an effective referral network and strong online presence are critical. For highly specialized boutique firms, the importance of those two factors can be far, far greater.
The attorneys within Breakstone, White & Gluck obviously know this—and you can see it demonstrated by the firm’s ability to attract a wide range of clients.
“Even though we’re highly specialized,” Breakstone says, “it does feel good to be a go-to for people, whenever they’re in need.”
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