How to Ask for Referrals – Part 1


Today’s tip is simple and focused. How should lawyers ask for referrals?

I asked lawyers, accountants and consultants to share how they go about it. They shared their tips generously and, as you will see, everyone has a slightly different approach.

In Part 1, we will hear from lawyers and accountants.

This is what they told us.


Mitchell Rose, Stancer, Gossin, Rose:

Getting to know your colleagues, both online and off, can not only lead to genuine friendships – but it can also help set the stage for referrals.

Even with lawyers that are in the same area, there is often a need to refer a file due to either a conflict or the need for a different skill, experience or hourly rate.

But, still, some lawyers are passive about this. They are shy to ask for referrals if they are not forthcoming.

It’s okay to tell people that you are looking for additional work. You just have to do it at the appropriate time and that depends on the relationship. To simply introduce yourself to someone at a networking event and ask for a referral doesn’t work. There’s a degree of emotional intelligence, luck and timing involved. Always make sure to put relationships first and referrals second.

Joseph Caprara, Caprara Barristers:

Lawyers have two key sources for referrals – professionals and clients.

You will  need to treat them differently:

  • Many professionals may get turned off if you ask for referrals outright. It’s more about setting up the relationship. Referrals will come.
  • With clients, there are two opportunities when it’s ideal to ask – at the initial intake and after the case is resolved. That’s when we can do no wrong and they will go out of their way for us. I give out my cards and tell them that if they have any friends or family that need anything to feel free to pass them along. When something comes along, you’re the first one they call. I once had someone track me down after 20 years! They remember the results. But they also remember the way we treated them.


Ian Wollach, Collins Barrow:

How do you ask for a referral? You ask!

You have a great opportunity once you’ve done something for a client. The easiest way is to start by asking if they are they happy with the work.

If yes, ask, “Do you know anyone else who has a similar need and would you mind providing us with a referral?”

Douglas Stansbury, Stansbury & Company:

Referrals are by far my most important source of new business. When I examined the referrals I had received, it was apparent that the best referrals were all coming from a small group of select people.

These were the people that I have the strongest relationship with, and who know what I am looking for in a client. I decided that rather than asking for referrals from a wide range of sources, I would focus on strengthening my relationship with this small group of referrers (and perhaps add a couple of more to the group).

The results – my practice has grown at a rate of 30% for the past two years, and I expect to repeat that growth again this year. Roughly 90% of that growth is from referrals.


In Part 2, we will hear from consultants, with more tips on asking for referrals.

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto


  1. They all sound good to me I am a paralegal here in Ontario.

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