Let's examine what happens when you make a great referral:
1. You have provided your client great legal services. By YOUR knowledge of the clients legal issues, and contacts in the legal community, you got them to the right lawyer. You also probably gave the client some real advice, AND you got the new lawyer started right, by narrowing the issues. You would have (probably....maybe) done a credible job with the case....your specialist referral will do it better, and we all know it.
2. Referral/participation fees. You make money the old fashioned way. When you make money and someone else is doing the bulk of the work, and you are repeating this process, this sounds like smart business. In the sophisticated business world, as opposed to the lawyer general practice world, this is called LEVERAGE. Leverage, in this context, is a good thing.
3. You will receive referrals back. Remember, although you specialize in general practice, there are some areas of law that you still do, and you do them well. Every time you make a referral, you have an opportunity to market for the cases you DO want. Specialists all get calls for cases outside their field, and they refer them out (because they are specialists). BE one of the lawyers they refer cases to.
4. You expand your network. Sometimes you don't have an attorney in your rolodex, or in Outlook, or wherever. Don't turn the client away. Get the facts, and use your resources to find them an attorney. Use the internet, call your attorney friends, check the County Bar Association committee lists, but MAKE SOME EFFORT. A specialist that you call after tracking them down, and hearing you say "I'm ______ an attorney in _____ County, and I have a client who needs an attorney who can do ______, and I found you by ___________" will respect you, will probably take the case, will pay you, will refer business to you, and will be someone you can refer to again. Expanding your network is always good.......