Presume her repetition as the only snag, not any tacit hesitancy or aversion to referring as some input beneath wrongly suggested.

In telephone calls and emails, my relative told her barrister that already knowing a certain website for lawyer referrals, she preferred a personal referral. He replied that he was thrilled to refer to his law school friend, but still pointlessly repeated this website. All her attempts failed, as they're too subtle and understated. After his 1st repeat, she replied:

Thank you. Noted. I do know of this website. But I hope for personal referral from you, rather than cold-calling from that website's list.

After his 2nd repeat, she replied:

Right. I did mention earlier that I already visited this website.

After his 3rd repeat, she stopped trying, and wretchedly suffered his repetition in silence.

She had to restrain from shrilling the following that'd offend:

  • Please do not repeat/stop repeating this that you already told me.
  • Please, no need to repeat this.
  • Is this the same person calling you or just someone from the same company?
    – JAD
    Nov 8, 2017 at 7:34
  • @EmC Assume that there's no other person: e.g. the family lawyer or accountant.
    – user2423
    Nov 17, 2017 at 6:24
  • 7
    Since you mentioned lawyer, are you paying these people by the hour?
    – Xen2050
    Nov 21, 2017 at 11:11
  • 2
    @Xen2050 That's a good point to bring up. If you are paying for the time they are wasting, that would mean different solutions are possible.
    – user3316
    Nov 23, 2017 at 1:44
  • 1
    @JMac Thanks for spotting that distinction. He's a (self-employed) barrister, and so the conversation wasn't billable because he didn't charge. Does this make sense?
    – user2423
    Feb 11, 2018 at 0:15

5 Answers 5


Have a more direct conversation about it

Perhaps they are simply forgetting or maybe there is another reason they keep bringing it up. Either way it is best to ask, try something like:

You've mentioned that a couple of times now, is there a particular reason you can't do a personal referral?

This would lead to a conversation about the subject, rather than simply brushing it off and carrying on. If the lawyer is forgetting then this might make it sit in their memory a little better, if they have some problem with the process and, despite remembering, keep bringing the site up then you might be able to address this or understand better where they're coming from. Remember, they do know the system so there might be a reason - besides talking longer and charging by the hour - behind their actions.


If you keep asking a professional to do something for you, and he keeps pointing you to info on how do it yourself, he's probably not going to do it for you.

Specifically, if you call a lawyer and try to get a referral out of him, you're asking him to use his reputation with his colleagues for your benefit. If he tells you "go look in a phone book," he's saying that he ain't gonna do it.

One repetition might be confusion on his part. More than that is not. Your relative was just badgering him for special favors, whether or not she realized that's what she was doing.

  • Thanks. I edited my OP to eliminate this possibility, after my relative confirmed no tacit loathing by him. Will you please remove this now obsolete advice, or add something new?
    – user2423
    Feb 5, 2018 at 1:52
  • 3
    My answer is unchanged based on the updated question.
    – fectin
    Feb 5, 2018 at 2:10

The guy was clearly aware of your desire, just unwilling to comply--he was stonewalling you.

Perhaps you (or your relative) should have taken the hint: the lawyer clearly didn't want to make the referral, and tried to take the politer path of pointing you towards an alternative resource rather than flatly refuse.

  • Thanks. I edited my OP to eliminate this possibility, after my relative confirmed no tacit loathing by him. Will you please remove this now obsolete advice, or add something new?
    – user2423
    Feb 5, 2018 at 1:52
  • 1
    I did not mean to imply any loathing. It's quite possible that he didn't want to take responsibility for the performance of the referral, or didn't know anyone appropriate. But it still appears that he wasn't really willing to provide a referral.
    – Curt
    Feb 5, 2018 at 3:08

You (or your relative) could ask why the professional keeps repeating:

Hm, you've told me about this website three times already and I acknowledged that I understood. However, I would prefer a referral from you. Is there a reason why you keep repeating this information? Are you unsure whether I understood what you told me? Would you prefer not to refer me? If so, please say so explicitely - I won't be offended but I need to know.

But, frankly, after the fourth repetition I would have been likely to end the call:

Understood. You've told me about that website four times now and you keep ignoring my request to refer me. It seems to me we're not getting anywhere today - I'll call you back tomorrow. Have a nice day.

  • Thanks. For your 2nd blockquote: (1) would the allegation of you keep ignoring my request to refer me offend and insult? (2) Why call you back tomorrow? Wouldn't the repeater repeat him/herself tomorrow?
    – user2423
    Nov 23, 2017 at 5:28
  • 2
    @Canada-Area51Proposal @(1) Maybe, you'd have to ask the lawyer that ;-). TBH, I find completely ignoring the request rather inconsiderate but the lawyer apparently didn't realise that. So I think it'd be time to be more blunt about it so that they realise they're causing annoyance. @(2) Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe they're just overworked, distracted, tired, or stuck in some mental loop and maybe they'll be in a more openminded frame of mind the next day. Also, if they have less innocent reasons, maybe they'll "give in" once you tell them you'll pester them again the next day ;-) Nov 23, 2017 at 8:44

I don't know if this is allowed in the UK, but in the US, a referral for a lawyer on a website can earn up to 25% in commission (see example affiliate program).

That being said, this is not to say this was this lawyers's particular motivation. Some websites in specific industries can be very good. They have a good search engine. They contain up-to-date contact information, customer reviews, good articles, and up-to-date licensing information/ reprimand letters.

I am aware that you're in the UK, but in the US, we also have the state bar associations websites. And in the US at least, if you want to refer a client in need of a lawyer, but you don't want that person to get ripped off, you refer that person to your local state bar association's website.

Did your relative check out the website in question? Can you give us its name? Maybe we can take a closer look at it.

  • I readded the link to my OP. It was originally deleted by a moderator: see the 2nd edit in the post history.
    – user2423
    Feb 8, 2018 at 4:47
  • @Canada-Area51Proposal The bar council seems to be equivalent to the bar associations we have here in the US. It looks legit to me (especially if the lawyer you trust recommended it). I would totally use that if I were your relative. There is really no point in asking your lawyer for a referral a fourth time since he keeps on directing you to that site, which was made explicitly for that purpose. Feb 8, 2018 at 7:51

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