Revolutionizing Network with Law Firm Referral Tracking Strategies

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Tanner Jones, your host and Vice President of Business Development at Consultwebs, welcomes you to another episode of the LAWsome Podcast by Consultwebs.

In this podcast episode, Tanner is accompanied by Josh Sanford, attorney and the owner of Lexamica, a company that manages and tracks referrals for law firms.

With Lexamica, Josh aims to simplify updating referrals and referring. In addition, the company promotes tracking referrals as a consistent revenue generator for law firms.

Besides working with Lexamica, Josh is also the Managing Member of the Sanford Law Firm, PLLC. He oversees a group of passionate attorneys and legal staff who work on various cases.

Join us for an insightful session as Josh walks us through the innovative ways of proactive referral tracking strategies for law firms. He will share invaluable advice on how to apply passive networking to referrals, tracking referrals and referring strategy that will enhance a firm’s ROI. 

Key Takeaways:

00:26 – Introduction 

01:00 – Journey as an attorney and a co-founder 

01:35 – Passive networking for law firms

03:10 – Benefits of a solid referral tracking system 

07:52 – Referrals from other legal professionals

09:30 – Proof that tracking referral strategies work

16:05 – How marketing agencies boost referral opportunities in law

22:05 – Final thoughts

Best way to contact Josh Sanford:

Episode Transcript:

[Intro] Lawsome by ConsultWebs. Breakthrough insights to build a thriving law firm with your host, Tanner Jones. 

[Tanner] Hello everyone. Welcome Lawsome listeners. Today on the show, we’re talking with Josh Sanford. He’s an attorney and the owner of Lexamica . It’s a company that manages and tracks referrals. Josh created Lexamica with a philosophy of simplifying, updating referrals so that users will enjoy the process and stay more informed.

The company also consistently promotes tracking referrals. Which will become a law firm’s consistent revenue driver. Aside from staying active with Lexamica, Josh is also a managing member of Sanford Law Firm PLLC. He oversees a group of dynamic attorneys who work on various cases within his practice. 

Today’s topic, it’s around breaking passive networking through proactive referral tracking strategies for law firms. Josh is going to share some experiences and several valuable insights as both an attorney and as a business owner. Welcome Josh, this is one I’ve been looking forward to.

[Josh] Yeah, it’s great to be here.

So excited I wish that you would have started by saying that you and I met on a golf course at a conference and that was super fun. So it’s great to know you.

[Tanner] I was saving that one. I was definitely going to compliment your golf skills. They’re much far surpassed mine. But maybe that’s probably better left off the record.

[Josh] Yeah, let’s edit that part out. 

[Tanner] Josh, I am, I’m very pleased to be talking to you about such an important topic. We’ve talked about this topic for years and years in working with law firms about just simply the power of referrals. Most law firms out there depend on a healthy percentage of their business that’s coming from referrals and then also sending out a healthy portion of business through trusted referrals.

So it’s a hot topic for many law firms and you obviously have very personal experience in this world.  I want to first start with the concept of passive networking, because I think that may be a term that maybe we can make assumptions on what it is, but it’s one that you’ve used in the past and you’ve used clearly as the title for this discussion.

So let’s start there. What is passive networking in your mind? 

[Josh] Well, non-intentional networking where lawyers are happy to connect with the people that they happen to meet in life and network with them whether it’s through, kids sports activities or church or going to conferences or wherever you can meet anyone just keeping your awareness up of the types of people that you may be able to receive business from or send business to. It’s important in everyone’s business, right?

[Tanner] So yeah, absolutely that makes sense. Passive networking I would say just based on my experience is probably where the majority of law lawyers land. Not really a ton of I’ll say accountability around it or even intentionality around it. So let’s take that to the next step. You talk about clearly that’s an important piece, but you also stress the importance of having a solid referral tracking strategy or system in place.

And so I’d like to hear from you on your personal experience. What is being more intentional about a system or referral tracking process? What does that actually deliver to a law firm? What’s your experience?  

[Josh] Yeah, I’d love to tell you how I got into it and why it means so much to me. So, I have a wage and hour practice in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Historically, I have. And we wanted access to unpaid wage cases all over the country. And we did some, we put our heads together and we realized that there are these law firms out there that are spending like millions of dollars a year. Making their phone ring for P. I. cases. They don’t want employment cases.

They wouldn’t know a wage and hour case if it slapped him in the face. So we very intentionally connected to market leading law firms in the P. I. space around the country to start receiving referrals from them. And it was great. They’re happy to try to get some money from the leads that they’re generating.

They weren’t otherwise monetizing, and we’re getting the very type of case that we wanted. We got into this, we were doing it pretty hard for a year or two, and we realized that there was no tool out there, which allowed us to report back to them efficiently what’s going on in the case. And so we had some of our referral partners. This is not a joke and this is only like four years ago faxing us a list of the cases that they had sent us. And then wanting us to annotate the facts and send it back to them and that’s not efficient.

And so my partner and I, developed a tool that allows lawyers to efficiently track the cases that they send and receive in both directions on the web and it’s super easy to use and it integrates with people’s CRMs or practice management software and I’m so excited about it because it was a pain point for me because like many lawyers, I know that without a tool in place, you’re limited to, I think, one of four options when it relates to referrals.

The first one is probably one that most people that listen to your podcast don’t use. That’s the just don’t do it. You say, I don’t want to spend money tracking this and I don’t really know that many people and I’m not going to bother with trying to send cases to other people. Then you got lawyers at the exact opposite end of the spectrum, the, who have the big budget solution. 

They’ll have a paralegal or maybe a lawyer or maybe both. In fact, I know one firm with a referral tracking team of 13 people. So the over a million dollars a year they’re spending keeping track of the referrals that they send to other law firms just to make sure that the client experience is good and that they’re getting paid that big budget solution works for some people, but it certainly doesn’t work for others.

And then you’ve got a more nuanced approach, which is just confinement to your own social network. So you’ll send cases to the people that you know and trust. You assume that they’re doing a good job. You assume that they’re not going to rip you off. You hope that they send you cases, but you’re not like actively spending.

Money or effort to keep up with him because you trust them and hopefully you occasionally see them at a conference or a bar meeting or around town or however you meet them, and you’re hoping that because you guys see each other, they’ll remember that they owe you money and they’ll pay you.

And then, of course there’s the opposite version of that, but still on the continuum is the just spray and pray. Okay. Send out referrals, don’t keep track of it doesn’t matter what you know about the case or don’t know and hopefully someday you’ll get paid and anytime a check comes in, you’re like, oh that’s fun.

I didn’t even realize I was going to get that money. All of those are like historical approaches that people have used to managing referrals and they all have their benefits. But we developed a tool that simplifies the process so that everyone can get involved. 

[Tanner] Which really hits on that first point that in terms of just the convenience of being able to have access but I’m curious and I would imagine at least I’ve heard this personally that there may be hesitancies of you know a lawyer’s reputation on the line and wanting to know you know they have a confidence in that other lawyer.

Do you hear that often? And I’m curious, have you, is there a solution to that with such a seemingly more convenient system? 

[Josh] I think that’s a really serious issue. And the way that we’ve engineered for that is that we gatekeep the network. We don’t let just anyone sign up to take cases. They have to have a compliant malpractice coverage.

They have to have a certificate of good standing. We also do some social proofing. So we don’t let just strangers that we’ve met that don’t know anyone in our network in. Now, we have a network of 150 lawyers and we have 20 lawyers. Case types like types of cases that I didn’t even know were out there I’m sure your lawyers are familiar with everything under the sun including Jones Act and FCRA and everything else, but there are lawyers that specialize in types of cases that never came across my door.  We’ve built our network through friends and through friends of friends and we’ve got some tracking built into the platform so that you no longer have to just trust your gut or someone else’s word, but you can actually see that the case is moving forward and we think that is the way to derisk the problem that’s there. 

[Tanner] That makes sense. Yeah, and I assumed you had considered that path. I’m curious what experiences specifically any kind of success stories? Or experiences you’ve had about intentionally tracking referrals at this level. Any kind of, have you seen business opportunities be created through that type of intentionality?

[Josh] Oh, absolutely. I’d like to start with a customer on the platform. I’d love to tell you my story because once we developed the platform, my brains started going and I came up with a use for it that I had not foreseen. I’d love to tell you about that, but let me tell you about a lawyer that I know named Tom. He’s from Texas.

He has some, like a lot of us, he does social media and he tries to get cases that way as well as traditional marketing. And he was able to do that and he would sign up cases and then refer them out to lawyers that he knew. And he actually made some good money at it. He’s in the personal injury space.

He knows lawyers in the personal injury space, but he didn’t know anyone outside of those practice areas. And so we plugged him into our network. And since that time, he’s been able to find homes for employment cases, workers comp cases, social security. Whatever comes through the door organically or naturally, even though he’s not advertising for those things and able to get money on the back end.

And it’s low effort. If you’ve got an intake form, you’re just hitting the refer button. And it’s gone, it goes to the people that we have  who registered with us that we can connect into the platform. So that’s been great for Tommy. I would imagine that most of your viewers are in a similar situation, whether they’re paying for the leads that they get or some of them are just coming in organically however you get them if they’re outside your geography outside your practice area or the third thing which I wish was me.

It’s just so many cases. You can’t handle them, those all can be referred out and it doesn’t have to just be to the people that you know so Tom’s story is I think a lot of people’s super successful on our platform. Once we built the platform, personally I became friends with a YouTuber.

It’s a channel called Legal Eagle, and maybe some of your viewers have seen it, but we started a law firm together and we refer tons of cases all over the country through Lexamica. Through the law firm that we made on his YouTube channel, it’s called Eagleteam.law but it’s on this YouTube Legal Eagle channel and it’s how we manage our practice on the Lexamico platform. 

My goal is whether you have a kind of a futuristic idea like that, or if you’re just like a normal person who gets leads and you can’t find a home for them, that you can monetize them to the greatest extent possible.  

[Tanner] I think that’s all fascinating to me, and it makes sense that there’s a world of opportunity there, like anything else, when you’re intentional and focused on something, you’re likely going to see more out of it. And to me that process improves everyone on both sides of that, including the client and getting served more efficiently, which is fascinating. But I’d like to take another angle here, Josh. And that’s clearly its software concept.

It’s a data driven approach in terms of being able to effectively track this, but it also leads into  the question of overall communication, overall serving both the client, but also serving essentially the referral partner in a sense. Communication is a critical part in that, and so it seems like there has to be some kind of blend between the automation side, the data driven side.

And ultimately still being able to maintain personal relationships. So what insights do you have in terms of being able to find a balance and you know tracking while maintaining these types of relationships 

[Josh] Yeah, that’s a fantastic question. So for me personally I’ve had this experience and I’m curious if your viewers or listeners have it’s You refer out a case and you trust the lawyer that’s working on it.

So you’re not nagging them hounding them trying to find out what’s happening with the case the client knows you they love you helped a family member of theirs or they were personally your client in the past they know that you’ve referred the case and they signed a fee agreement and know that you’re getting some of the money.

So they assume that you’re working on the case. They call you. They want to know what’s the status of the case, right? And this happens all the time. You don’t know so if you’re like me what I did in the past was I would say ooh, that’s a great question I’ll check on that and get back to you. I look dumb. 

I don’t know what’s going on in their case. I supposedly care about my client and I’m definitely getting paid on it if we win. What our platform does is it gives you real time data sync back into your CRM so that when the client calls in, anyone on your staff can say, oh, yeah, here’s what’s happening.

Discovery’s been served or they’re currently negotiating or, the judge just set your trial for 14 months from now or whatever the status of it is, what we want to do is use that automatic data sync to make you look and be more connected to the facts of the case, more in a position to be, to appear as the authority that you actually are to your client and to automate that so that you’re not the referral partner that’s nagging, and you, I don’t want to look like I don’t know what’s happening in my cases to my clients.

I want to know, I want to be able to look at a, click a button and see what’s happening.

[Tanner] Makes sense. Let’s move into the concept of community engagement for a law firm. Community engagement is something any marketer is going to preach in terms of being a value for a law firm.

Primarily going back to the root topic which is because of the network gives you that opportunity to get your brand out there to represent yourself to meet new people to be able to get in front of existing relationships all of which are incredibly valuable and a big factor to continuing to grow your referral base and your word of mouth. So I’m curious based on your experience and you know being in the trenches in the world of being a lawyer and referrals. How can a marketing agency or even a marketing team help a law firm connect and leverage?

Whether it be community events, whether it be conferences, speaking engagements, whatever that may be, how can they leverage it for more effective referral opportunities? What feedback or valuable advice would you offer our listeners? 

[Josh] Oh, Tanner, that’s a great question. I love that question. Here’s my thoughts.

As a lawyer, I want to specialize in certain types of cases. And I think a lot of lawyers are that way. Okay. And I think that’s great. I’m a fan of specialization. I think it helps clients get better outcomes. I think it’s good for the legal profession. There’s a downside, though, because when you market yourself as a lawyer your clients don’t necessarily come to you only for that type of case if your marketing works if it makes you seem compelling as a person, as a lawyer, and not just this one specialization Then you have potential clients coming at you with a variety of issues all over the map and honestly satisfy clients. Past clients will come back to you whenever they think of needing a lawyer. And you need to be able to provide value to those people And just saying, oh, yeah, I don’t do that kind of case. That’s not good. I think that our platform allows lawyers to have a far reaching community engagement so that they don’t need to feel like they’re not gonna be able to monetize leads that they create that aren’t necessarily honed in on their practice area. I want lawyers out in the community engaging with people full stop because something like 76 or 77 percent of people in America who need a lawyer don’t talk to one. And that stat freaks me out. I think part of the reason is that we as lawyers are so busy. We don’t have time to get out into the community and engage with people so that they feel comfortable talking to people reaching out to us.

So  I think that a platform like this allows lawyers to more freely engage with their community, knowing that it’s not going to be a loss. It’s not going to be a write off just because it doesn’t generate that one type of case that they like. Now, I guess that’s the community side of it. But for the legal profession, it’s been virtually impossible to effectively scale referring cases to lawyers that you don’t know. It’s arguably dangerous. And the goal of our platform is to intermediate the relationship between litigating firms and originating firms. We want to make sure that everyone who gets the cases on the platform is competent to handle them and just because you met someone at a conference or there’s a lady that’s in a social organization that you’re in doesn’t mean that they’re actually good at being a lawyer. Sure, and so I think it’s actually potentially more dangerous to refer only to the lawyers that, you know, because you have this bias that, oh, I know them, therefore, they must be good.

No, we really want the best people in any type of case, regardless of whether you know them or not. And I want lawyers to feel like they can engage in referrals more safely and more scalably. In a way that profits them and is great for clients that’s based on transparency and accountability and data sharing and not just based on a hunch like oh, I met him I like him or we both like the duck hunt or that guy was good at golf so I trust him or whatever like I want people to use data to get better outcomes for more clients and to get those clients whether you’re doing it, through marketing spend or through community engagement. I want people to be confident to be able to do that, that they can help more clients.

[Tanner] Josh, it makes sense. I’d ask you or any other closing thoughts or final remarks when it comes to this overall concept for attorneys and maybe any tips or actions that you would compel them to take? 

[Josh] Honestly, it’s something that I think about a lot of time. Which is the kind of the future of the legal profession. And I’m always asking myself, how are things changing? Are they changing? I think they are. I have friends who spend  millions of dollars a year on TV advertising.

You know what they all tell me uniformly. The cost of acquisition for a case is on the rise. And why is it? It’s because marketing is more fragmented, right? Cases are coming from more different, diverse audiences, places and I don’t think that trend is a blip. I think it’s forever. And I think that people lawyers need to be engaged in digital marketing all over the map.

They need to have a strategy for it.  They need to feel comfortable where they spend money to get cases. They’re going to be able to monetize those cases, even if it’s not a case that they can litigate. Anyone who is sophisticated enough to spend money with a marketing company,  I think is sophisticated enough.

To also track their referrals and make the referral strategy a meaningful part of their business because we have this huge opportunity that’s presenting to us right now, which is like this bifurcation in the legal marketplace where there are people who are really good at getting eyeballs. Who maybe can’t handle all the cases that they bring in.

You need to get connected with those people. And if you’re one of the eyeball people, if you’re good at getting cases, you need to have litigation partners who can handle those cases. And we’ve set up a network so that people can create value for themselves and their firms and their families and their clients on both sides of that transaction.

Because I think that the profession is changing in that way. In that way, I don’t think that you have to adapt to survive. I think you can just keep on doing what you’ve done to survive, but I think if you want to grow, I think if you want to thrive, you need to adapt and you need to adopt new technologies that are available.

And if you have, if you’re like, sophisticated enough to spend real money marketing. Then you should capture as much money as you can from those marketing dollars. That’s my take on it. 

[Tanner] Josh, we appreciate those insights and appreciate so much your willingness to come join the Lawsome Show. How can someone find you over at Lexamica?

[Josh] If we’re talking to lawyers here, I’ll just tell you I’m a texting junkie. And if you need to bleep this out, that’s fine. But my cell phone number is 479 857 0776. Text me 479 857 0776 www. lexamica.com. I’m Josh from lexamica.com. I’m not the CEO. I am a co-founder of it. I still work at my two law firms, my one in Little Rock and my one on YouTube.

And I’m not hard to find. I’m on YouTube myself with a little channel called America’s Attorney. And I also, actually, I have a platform on YouTube and Facebook for any lawyers who are listening who would like to make videos they can come on our platform and we can get them out on Facebook and get them in front of some new viewers. I’d love to do that. I hope I’m not hard to find, I’ll tell you that much.

[Tanner] Very good. And we’ll put all that information as well in the show notes so you can reference those. But thanks again, Josh. Grateful to have you.

[Josh] Yeah, man. My pleasure. Hopefully you and I can play golf again soon, right?

[Tanner] Looking forward to that. Hopefully in maybe sunny Arizona. 

[Josh] Thanks Tanner. 

[Outro] Lawsome by ConsultWebs with Tanner Jones. For show notes, links, and info go to consultwebs.com slash podcast. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review. Watch for the next Lawsome episode to discover more breakthrough insights to build a thriving law firm.

Episode Tweetables and Quotes: 

“Passive networking is non-intentional networking where lawyers are happy to connect with people they meet in life and network with them. Whether it’s through kids’ sports activities, church, or conferences. Wherever you can meet anyone. Just keep your awareness of the types of people you may be able to receive business from or send business to.” @consultwebs

“The way we engineered referrals is we gatekeep the network. We don’t let just anyone sign up to take cases. They have to have compliant malpractice coverage and a certificate of good standing. We also do social proofing, so we don’t let just strangers that don’t know anyone in our network get in.” @consultwebs

“Lawyers specialize in certain types of cases, and that’s great. It helps clients get better outcomes, and it’s good for the legal profession.  But there’s a downside to it. When you market yourself as a lawyer, clients don’t usually come to you only for that type of case. But if the marketing team works and makes you seem compelling as a lawyer and a person, not just for the specific specialization, then you have potential clients coming at you.”  @consultwebs

“Anyone who’s sophisticated enough to spend money on a marketing company is sophisticated enough also to track their referrals. Moreover, make the referral strategy a meaningful part of their business. If you want to grow, if you want to thrive, you need to adapt to new technologies.”   @consultwebs