Lawyer Referral Service — Providing Those Ineligible for Our Services with Access to Representation
Marla (name changed) was in urgent need for help with a family law matter — child and spousal support. She called our hotline for assistance and found that though she was of modest means, she was not quite eligible for our services. This could have stopped her in her tracks had not the intake screener been able to send her to our Lawyer Referral Service (LRS). Through the LRS, Marla was connected with a local private attorney who took her case and was able to help her resolve her matter. As reported back to us by Marla, the attorney did a “fantastic” job for an affordable fee and even allocated some of her time as pro bono work.
This is one example of the many connections that are facilitated through our LRS. The LRS was created to offer legal resources to those we cannot assist or who are ineligible for our services. All referrals are offered free to the potential clients and the LRS is the only referral service in California that is connected to a nonprofit legal services program.
Through the LRS, individuals and businesses have access to an extensive network of prescreened private attorneys and are matched with those who are experienced in the legal practice area appropriate to which they are seeking help. Community members connect to and access the LRS through our hotline and website, the LRS website, and referrals from agencies like the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the Orange County Bar Association.
The LRS staff includes an administrator, an intake paralegal, an auditor and two interns (pre-law student and a paralegal). When an individual contacts LRS, the intake paralegal interviews and screens the call by inquiring the nature of the legal problem. The staff assists them by filtering out the different option to help them find an attorney that fits their needs. The caller’s location is also noted for the appropriate attorney match.
Once a referral is made, the caller will receive up to a 30-minute consultation with the private attorney. During the consultation the attorney will evaluate whether or not they can assist and, if so, what the fees will be. If the potential client decides to retain the attorney, the arrangements are documented in writing. In the event that the attorney match is not a good fit, the caller will have others from which they can choose.
Interested attorneys register themselves via the LRS website to request participation in the referral service. They can indicate the areas of law that they practice and the communities or cities in which they wish to work. The LRS staff will check their credentials and verify they are in good standing with the State Bar of California. If accepted, the attorney is included in the database and will enter the referral rotation. LRS staff will continue to monitor their status.
When a match has been made, an email is sent to both the attorney and the client. The status of the case is monitored and all interaction between the client and attorney is documented and tracked by the attorney and the LRS staff. LRS tracks all interactions and contact through a proprietary software program developed by Intellinks.
The client makes direct payment to the attorney for services and a percentage of the fee paid is then transferred by the attorney to the LRS for the referral. At optimum, the LRS generates enough earned income through the referral system to pay for its staff with revenue to spare, all of which is then reinvested into our program to support our services for the community.
After 37 years in operation, the LRS staff recently went through a self-evaluation to look at ways to update operations. This led to a restructuring process that includes the creation of a new infrastructure that more efficiently tracks the referrals and subsequent payments from the attorneys. As evidenced in the positive feedback staff have received from Marla and many others, LRS continues as a valuable resource for the community.
To start a referral visit the LRS website at www.socallawyerreferral.com and click on Client Area or call 888-577-4255 or 714-571-5204.