Since March 2020, we have become familiar with the “R” rate, which tells us whether the rate of infection for Covid-19 is increasing or decreasing. When “R” is greater than one, each infected person is infecting at least on other person and the rate of infection rises. When it is less than one, they are infecting less than one other person, so the rate of infection falls.

Charts, like the one below, showing the powerful impact on the spread of the virus when the R rate increases and how cutting it makes so much difference were on or TV screens every night.

In this example, an R of 3 infects 120 more people after 4 stages, (3+9+27+81).  An R rate of 1, infects just 4 more people after 4 stages, one at each stage (but you knew that).

So, in other news, I was reading Simon McCrum’s excellent book, “The Perfect Legal Business” and watched an interview with him earlier this week.  Everything he said is true and as he said two things that are relevant here. Firstly, we all know what we should be doing as law firms and secondly, we should make so much more of our existing client base.  So why don’t we do it?

Back to the “R” rate.


“R” is for Recommendations 

If your client recommended one more client to you, you would then have two clients and by stage 4, you would have just four more clients – like the “R=1” graphic above.

But – if your client recommends two more clients and each of them recommends two more clients, then you are gaining business at a remarkable rate. By the stage 4, you would have 30 more clients, (2+4+8+16).

Do you ask your clients for recommendations? If not – why not?

Back to the “R” rate again.

“R” is for Referral 

As Simon reminds us, clients are not “the fee earner’s client” but are the firm’s client. It is hard work gaining new clients, (notwithstanding the above), so maximise the work you can get out of those clients you have.

This means cross-referring within the firm. Why shouldn’t the firm’s client, that came to you for an employment matter, use you for the lease they now want to renew and then set up a new corporate structure and take action against a supplier for failing to comply with a Service Level Agreement, etc., etc.?

They need to know that you do the work but firstly and most importantly, they need to know that you are interested in their business.

Let’s assume that each client has one matter with the firm but we undertake a referral drive, (and there is science behind that, which we can discuss), such that two more matters are generated. Obviously, this is then capped by the client’s needs. It cannot go on exponentially but let’s say that for each matter two more matters are generated for the firm.

WOW! We just tripled the firm’s business.

THEN……each of those new clients that were Recommended to us – because we asked for them – also generates two more matters, in addition to the first one.

We started with ONE MATTER. By Stage 4 we have 30 clients and 3 matters per client, i.e. NINETY matters.


I know this is entirely idealistic. However, I worked at a firm that thought this way. We started with 3 partners, 3 fee earners and one support staff. Each month, we looked at our client base for a couple of hours and identified those that we thought had other work that we were not doing but in which we had the expertise. Simply going and asking the client if we could do that work for them was often all it took to obtain it. That unit is now dozens of people strong and continues to grow.

Many law firms have been in stasis for years. The don’t grow but they don’t slide very quickly either. Loyalty, especially in the regions, is strong. Their “R” rates are around 1. Now they have to look to their “R” rates and push them over 1. Stasis is bad for all sorts of reasons. Take your firm forward. Courage and vision people!

Written by…

Richard Wyatt