item image
9 Mar 2020

Tips to Avoid Referring Out Your Cases

Every now and then, prospective clients may come to you seeking legal help involving an issue in an unfamiliar practice area. What if instead of referring them to another firm, you could take the case yourself? With the right resources, you can expand your knowledge breadth and confidently take on cases that touch on issues that you haven’t faced before. With the right practical guidance, you can offer insightful advice, keep a pulse on current developments in every practice area and learn to handle the tasks associated with new areas of law with ease and proficiency.

Why Do Attorneys Refer Out Cases?

Knowledge Gap

In the legal space, it is not uncommon to refer out cases or have cases referred to you. This is especially true for small law firms or solo practitioners. Often, they must refer cases to firms better suited to handle a particular legal issue or provide more robust client assistance. Perhaps your practice does not have the capacity for new cases, or you are not confident with your legal expertise in a particular area of law. Even at big law firms, attorneys who understand the challenges that come from working in a foreign area of law prefer not to put unnecessary pressure on their partners or associates.

Ethical Responsibility

In some circumstances, case referrals are an ethical responsibility. Accepting cases in an unfamiliar area of law can lead even a top-notch attorney down the long road to a malpractice claim. The Rules of Professional Conduct require attorneys to represent their clients with competency and care. Thus, if an attorney does not have the knowledge and skillset to take on a particular area of law, it is best to refer the case to someone else. But no matter what the reason for referring the case out may be, the resulting loss of business can be frustrating and discouraging.

Referral Agreement

Many law firms have case referral agreements with other attorneys in their networks. These agreements are between contingency-based firms that pay a commission for referred individuals who sign on as clients. The drawback is that clients can misunderstand referral agreements. There’s a tendency for them to feel as if they are being passed around or that they’re not worth your time. This is just another reason why you may want to avoid referring out cases (if possible). 

How to Avoid Referring Out Cases

There are benefits of specializing in only a few areas of practice. Stretching yourself or your firm too thin can overwhelm limited resources. If you want to invest the time and resources into fully understanding a new field of law however, it can lead to huge dividends.

If you’re thinking about exploring new areas of the law to increase your legal expertise, here are some tips to increase your chances of success:

  • Target a specific, niche topic. This ensures that you don’t become overwhelmed with broadening your scope too much. In the legal space, it’s better to be intimately familiar with a few subjects than know cursory information about many practice areas.
  • Consider the legal needs in your jurisdiction. Before you pick whatever practice area you’ve always wanted to explore, think about the legal landscape around you. What type of cases do you find yourself referring out most frequently? Is there a certain sector booming in your city? Accessing market data for your region might give you a better idea of where the most lucrative opportunities are.
  • Choose a subject contextually relevant if possible. As you conduct your research, look for needs in the market that closely match your current knowledge base and skillset. By learning a subject you’re already familiar with, there’s a better chance of you picking up speed and excelling in that new area.

Use Technology To Expand Your Skill Set

The first place to start when trying to avoid referring out your cases is expanding your skill set. Before you sign yourself up for a case that deals with issues outside of your wheelhouse, you need to get up to speed — or else face malpractice. Begin by increasing your competency in the areas you feel weak. With the right technology, you can tackle new and exciting cases in uncharted territory with confidence, security and mastery. To do that, consider using a practical guidance software. This type of tool helps attorneys navigate unfamiliar tasks and get up to speed in other practice areas more quickly.

Accelerate Your Learning & Take On More Cases

If you’re looking for a solution to expand your expertise in new areas and avoid referring out cases, consider a practical guidance tool. With the right tool for your firm, you’ll gain access to exclusive content to build on your existing knowledge base and stay competitive in the ever-evolving legal field by sharpening your dexterity in other areas of the law.