What Is a Lawyer Referral Service?

A lawyer referral service is a resource for people who are in need of legal assistance. These services provide access to attorneys that have been pre-screened to meet specific criteria such as experience, disciplinary records, and professional references.

The service is a public resource operated by a bar association or similar organization to connect clients with a qualified attorney. Often, the service is free to use and operates 24-hours a day.

These services are run by a number of different legal organizations, including the American Bar Association and the State Bar Associations. In addition to referring people to lawyers, these services can also help them locate other sources of legal information and assistance such as pro bono programs, consumer or government agencies that can assist with their particular needs.

In order to qualify as a lawyer referral service, a service must conform to the rules and regulations of the ABA in regard to its operation. These rules are designed to ensure that lawyer referral services operate in the public interest and are not engaged in unfair or deceptive practices.

Rule 7.2 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct provides that “a lawyer may not give anything of value to one who recommends the lawyer’s services” except the usual charges of a lawyer referral service, which are defined as fees for attorney-client communications. This provision has been interpreted by many states and courts in various ethical opinions as restricting the sharing of attorney fees for referrals.

The ABA’s Model Rule of Professional Conduct also contains an exemption for services that are designed to promote accessibility to the legal system. This exemption is intended to protect those who need legal services but can’t afford them.

Most state bar associations maintain a lawyer referral service to provide people with legal assistance when they can’t afford it. Typically, these services are run by the local bar association and have pre-negotiated reduced consultation fees or free initial appointments with a lawyer.

Lawyer Referral and Information Services are operated primarily as a public service to help people who can’t afford to hire a lawyer but need one. This includes people who are in need of help in areas such as family law, bankruptcy, immigration, child support, and criminal defense.

These services can be accessed through the internet by searching for your legal need. For example, if you need help with an automobile accident in California, you can find a list of lawyers who have been pre-screened to handle these types of cases through Nolo’s website. Nolo’s website also features a library of articles on legal topics that are relevant to your situation.

Nolo’s website is built with search engine optimization (SEO) and advertising to generate targeted traffic to their site. The company captures the contact information of these potential clients via a form on their website and then sells it to attorneys within their network for a fee.

Other lead generation services exist that match prospective clients with subscribing attorneys. These lead-generation services rely on a combination of online search engine marketing and pay per click advertisements to drive traffic to their website. Some of these services use proprietary tools to purportedly pre-screen prospective clients and match them with attorneys based on practice area, experience, disciplinary records, and professional references.