Legal referral network goes from strength to strength

February 24, 2020

Back in 2016, Buckles Solicitors launched BUCKLESconnect, a referral network providing specialist advice to other law firms and their clients. Working with a base of 30 members, the firm hoped that the fledgling network would double in size by the end of that year.

Tiny acorns, giant oaks, as the saying goes.

Fast forward almost four years and BUCKLESconnect has grown more than tenfold, assisting more than 340 members on French, Spanish and Italian law, planning and construction, and contentious probate matters. In that time, the network has generated more than £1.5million in cumulative fees.

Duncan Jackson, who helped established the network and has since become Chief Executive of Buckles, explained: “From the outset, we focused on the need to move away from solutions which suit us best as lawyers and towards solutions which are best for the client. This meant broadening our horizons to work with accountants, IFAs and other lawyers. We wanted to build relationships rather than purely focus on transactions.”

Duncan and the BUCKLESconnect team have remained true to this approach and the network prides itself on a collaborative ethos and sharing best practice. Innovation to develop bespoke provision and involve other legal services that Buckles can offer has followed. As a result, the network now includes property litigation, family law and mediation where appropriate.

Another characteristic of BUCKLESconnect that sets it apart from other referral networks is the emphasis on responding to need where it arises, as opposed to focusing on a specific geographical area. Consequently, its reach stretches beyond local boundaries, with clients located as far afield as Scotland and Cornwall, and it draws on wider global contacts as required.

Duncan said: “It’s a question of capacity and providing a comprehensive service to clients. We continue to find that smaller firms provide the bulk of Connect referrals. A client may approach them with a private client issue, which they deal with, but who then also requires niche assistance with part of their estate in Spain, for example. That’s where we come in.”

Robust systems are in place to ensure that Buckles does not contact the clients of member firms directly or indirectly. Equally, Buckles does not accept instruction from those clients without prior approval from the referring firm.

The flexibility and responsiveness of BUCKLESconnect are key drivers in its success to date, as its primary purpose is to ensure benefit to the member firms and their clients.

Networking and social events organised for members allow them to build working relationships with each other, as well as with Buckles and the BUCKLESconnect team. In this way, BUCKLESconnect acts as a conduit between members. Informal feedback indicates that members highly value this approach.

Duncan added: “We’re pleased with how the network has evolved and encouraged by the results it has delivered, not only for Buckles but also the members it serves. We hope that the next four years will continue to be as productive.”