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Attorney Referral: What it Means for Your Case

Updated October 23, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

If you’ve begun the process of hiring a lawyer, you may find that they want to refer your case to another lawyer. This process can seem confusing at first. We will define what an attorney referral truly means, why you might be referred to another attorney, and what are the implications for your case.

What Is a Referral in Law?

In law, a referral refers to sending a client to work with a different attorney. This attorney may not even be in the same practice. However, the original attorney likely has a good reason to recommend that particular lawyer for your case.

What Happens to the Original Lawyer?

In many cases, the original attorney you planned to hire may still be involved in your case. In some cases, they may be actively engaged in the research, investigation, and other tasks essential for building your case. Other times, they may put most of the work into the new attorneys’ hands. This approach is typically how Wilson Kehoe Winingham handles referrals.

Who Can Refer a Client to an Attorney?

Choosing a lawyer to represent you in court can be a daunting task. When referrals happen, it can happen in one of two ways.

Other Lawyers

Sometimes, one lawyer will refer their client to another lawyer. An attorney may do this if they believe the new lawyer will better fit their client’s needs. We will discuss the reasons an attorney may refer out their client below.

Lawyer Referral Services

A lawyer referral service is run by the state bar association or another nonprofit or advocacy group. These services maintain a database of lawyers, and they can connect potential clients with an attorney based on the type of case they have and their location. Unlike referrals from other lawyers, these referrals are usually one of the clients’ first attempts to contact an attorney about their case.

What Are Some Reasons to Refer a Case to Another Lawyer?

You may wonder why lawyers choose to refer a client to another attorney. These are the most common reasons:


Sometimes, a law firm may have less experience with a particular type of case, or it may be outside their typical practice area. In these instances, they can refer the client to another attorney or firm. The original lawyer may still be involved (as in this collaborative effort). Still, the new firm will usually lead the case.


An attorney may also refer a case out if their workload is too heavy. They may recognize that the new case will require more time on research or depositions than is available. While this can be frustrating, particularly after efforts to find and contact this lawyer, it is undoubtedly better than having an attorney rush through your case.


Sometimes, the attorney recognizes that your case requires more time than they have available, but they still want to work with you. In some cases, they may refer you to another lawyer with the intention of working together with them. The new lawyer may have a bigger team, a lighter workload, or more experience in the subject matter. In this case, you’ll get the best of both worlds: two great lawyers on your team.


Some cases are so small that they are not cost-effective for the law firm. For example, a single person suing a manufacturer for a defective product might cost more resources than a law firm can allocate. However, if another lawyer brings a class-action lawsuit against the company, adding one more plaintiff to their case will be more cost-effective. In a case like this, the original attorney would refer their client to be part of this lawsuit.

Contact a Lawyer Today

Whether you’re a potential client or you’d like to refer a client to our law firm, we would love to hear from you. Contact Wilson Kehoe Winingham to discuss your case at no charge and with no obligation.

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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


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