I am often asked by our customers and law firm members, “When you are asked for an attorney recommendation, how do you choose which law firm member to recommend?” This is an important question, because our clients rely on us for attorney recommendations, and our law firm members rely on us to refer them to clients. Making recommendations is a responsibility I take very seriously. In order to make an informed recommendation, I must know our law firm members very well. I need to know their interests, experience, and capabilities. I must also learn what our clients’ needs and expectations are.
For example, say a large client, “Bank of NL,” contacts me requesting attorney recommendations. I’ll first conduct a detailed interview with the bank to determine their needs. Some of the questions I ask are:
1. What type(s) of accounts are you going to place with the law firm? Possibilities include commercial, consumer (secured or unsecured) or student loans; auto deficiencies; medical; etc.
2. What is the average balance of the accounts and the minimum claim amount that you will forward to legal counsel?
3. Are you looking for immediate suit or also pre-litigation collection efforts?
4. How will you forward your claims to the law firm (via YGC, FTP, email, etc.)?
5. What are your work standards, terms and conditions (security and technology requirements, etc.)?
6. How will you pay the law firm (contingent, flat fee or hourly)? What is the rate you hope to pay?
7. What is the average number of claims you will forward to the law firm each month?
8. For what geographic location(s) do you need an attorney?
Once I identify the needs, I search the list of attorneys on our website at www.nationallist.com in the geographic area requested. I view the firm profile for each law firm in that area to determine the firms that will make the best match for this particular client.
For example, if the bank asks me for attorney recommendations in CA and AZ, and the type of accounts is consumer loans with an average balance of $3K, monthly volume estimated at 300/month, forwarded via YGC, and they need firms to do pre-litigation collection work and litigation, I will search nationallist.com under Statewide Coverage CA and Statewide Coverage AZ. (Helpful hint for NL law firm members: In order to get optimal exposure, make sure your firm is listed in each geographic area that you service.)
I will then look at each of these law firms’ profiles to see which firms have retail collections as an area of concentration, don’t have a minimum claim of more than $3K, have a YGC mailbox, have the capacity to service 300 law suits per month and include pre-litigation collection efforts in their standard collection procedure prior to suit.
I will then look at what else I know about each of the firms on this narrowed-down list. I might know that one of the firms recently took on a large client and as a result, they have asked me to not send them any new referrals for a period of time. I might know that one firm only does a small amount of retail collections, because they prefer commercial collections. Thus, I won’t recommend either of those two firms. Or maybe we are having service problems with one of the firms, because they are not adhering to a client’s contract terms and they are not responding to our attempts to assist in the matter. I would not feel comfortable recommending a firm with that status, either.
For each of the firms in good standing that meet the client’s criteria, I prepare a list that includes a link to each law firm’s profile. I email it to the client requesting the recommendations. (Helpful hint to law firm members: Make sure your member profile on www.nationallist.com is up to date.) Where applicable, I also include some personal comments, such as how long the law firm has been listed with NL, if they actively attend industry conferences, or how timely and thorough they are in responding to NL communications. I might also provide feedback we receive from other NL clients. (Helpful hint for NL law firm members: Pay your membership dues on time. We cannot recommend a law firm whose membership dues are in arrears).
The client then has a list of several law firm members in the area that could be a good match for them, along with a detailed profile on each firm. Most of the legwork has been done for them, and they now have a short list firms they can interview that have already been screened for alignment with their legal business model.
In the screening process we go through before recommending attorneys, and in all of the other services we provide, The National List of Attorneys shows that we are more than an attorney referral service. We are an information provider.
For an attorney recommendation, contact me today via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800.227.1675.
by Beverly Unrath