How the Largest Law Firm in the World is Organising its Referral Network

Posted at Legal Practice Intelligence - 10 May 2016

Even the world's largest law firm still needs to refer work to other firms and hopes to get referrals itself. Being global and being big must create a whole new set of problems when it comes to referral relationships. Denton's answer to these challenges is to create an online referral platform which it has branded NEXTLAW Global Referral Network.

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Excerpts from the official announcement from Dentons:

Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, today announced that it has created the only free law firm referral network. Named "Nextlaw Global Referral Network," it is based on a new technology platform that will allow member law firms to easily connect and track referrals.

Nextlaw Global Referral Network avoids the problems of existing referral networks by not charging a fee for membership and by not being territorially exclusive. With free membership, the ability to have multiple firms with differing strengths in any city, and a technology platform that promotes reciprocal repeat referrals, Nextlaw Network is committed to connecting clients with the top talent around the world, and connecting high-quality firms with opportunities everywhere.

“The challenge for clients with today’s referral networks is that they are ‘pay-to-play’—you do not get the right firm for the client’s particular need, just the firm willing to pay to be part of the referral network,” explained Joe Andrew, Dentons Global Chairman. “Nextlaw Global Referral Network is different because it is free, so clients will get the best lawyers for their need, without exception.”

“Even as the largest law firm in the world, with more than 7,400 lawyers, we cannot always have the exact lawyer with the specific expertise in every conceivable geographic location a client may need him or her,” said Dentons Global Chief Executive Officer Elliott Portnoy.

Dentons named Jeff Modisett to be the Chief Executive Officer of Nextlaw Global Referral Network.

Modisett, a lawyer and technology entrepreneur, said, “Through this network, we offer clients something that no one else in the world can provide: the ability to stay with their trusted law firm while accessing expertise and experience in any geographic area, any legal practice area, and any industrial or professional sector, all for free.”

“Firms that are members of Nextlaw Global Referral Network are more likely to receive reciprocal referrals than from any other referral network,” Modisett explained, “because the technology allows all members to easily and transparently keep track of referrals and uses an algorithm that promotes reciprocal repeat referrals.”

While Nextlaw Global Referral Network is open to any law firm that meets its quality standards, it focuses its membership primarily on small to mid-sized law firms, and firms of any size that are in one location, country or region, or that specialize in one practice area or industry sector. In other words, Nextlaw Global Referral Network focuses on approximately 90 percent of the legal market.

Nextlaw Global Referral Network's goal is to quickly grow the network into the largest offering of quality legal talent in the world. Last year alone, Dentons referred work to just under 1,000 law firms that its partners have vetted and believe have the talent to best meet client needs in their region or their specialty. The Firm also received more than 500 inbound referrals. Including these firms alone would make Nextlaw the world's largest referral network. In addition, any firm in the world may apply to be considered for membership. Applicants are vetted by a panel consisting of partners of Dentons, partners of other member firms, and other general counsel, who evaluate each applicant based on a number of criteria, including client feedback, independent third-party quality rankings, awards and accolades, and unique practice and/or sector expertise.

The network is expected to launch in mid-2016, with Dentons lawyers using the platform immediately. Invitations to those firms with which Dentons already has an existing relationship go out today, and the website is up and operating for any law firms to review and apply to be part of this unique global referral network.

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