I’m careful about who I refer potential clients to. The referral reflects on me, I think, and I would rather leave someone to find a lawyer on his own than refer him to a lawyer who isn’t going to do an excellent job on his case.
In Texas, I have a good list of criminal-defense lawyers whom I trust to do work that I’d be proud of. I have a few reliable personal injury lawyers. I’ve got one guy who does transactional and estate-planning work, and one woman who does heavily-contested divorces.
I’ve never had any luck with referrals to Houston lawyers for ordinary divorces. It may just be that, because of all the negativity surrounding a divorce, people are very rarely happy with their divorce lawyers. Or it may be that, because of all the negativity surrounding a divorce, divorce lawyers are particularly bad at the kind of client communication that makes clients happy. In any case, I’ve pretty well stopped recommending divorce lawyers (if you’re a Houston divorce lawyer, and you think you get rave reviews from the clients I send you, email me; we’ll talk).
From my Trial Lawyers College and NACDL participation, I know a smattering of criminal-defense lawyers in places outside of Texas. (Need a great criminal-defense lawyer in Severna Park, Maryland? Chris Flohr. Newport Beach, California? Joey Low. Sturgis, South Dakota? Mike Strain.)
But not everywhere—not yet.
So when a friend asked me for a referral in a faraway city, I had to ask around. I called another Houston criminal-defense lawyer I trusted, knowing that he had contacts all over the place and figuring that if I trusted him and my friend trusted me then his referral should be good. He gave me a name; I called the guy; the guy passed the telephonic smell test; and I gave the guy’s number to my friend. The lawyer was for a close relative of his. So the relative was trusting the friend, the friend was trusting me, and I was trusting the other Houston criminal-defense lawyer for a referral to a lawyer who wouldn’t drop the ball.
See where this is going?
Yep. The faraway lawyer dropped the ball. Hard. Not in a “things could have turned out better” way, but in a less forgivable “didn’t even show up” way. If I were a sports fan, I would surely have some clever simile for how egregious his ball-dropping was. But I’m not a sports fan, so I’ll just say to say that if I dropped the ball that hard, I’d be giving the client the bulk of his fee back to make it up to him.
I can’t do that, though, since I don’t get anything for a referral but the satisfaction of connecting someone with the right lawyer, and in this instance I didn’t even get that.
So now my friend looks like a pendejo for referring his relative to this guy, I look like a pendejo for referring my friend to this guy, and the other Houston criminal-defense lawyer looks like a pendejo for referring me to this guy.
I am not pleased.
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