What is a Lawyer Referral Service?

N. Madison

A lawyer referral service is usually intended to connect members of a community with licensed legal professionals. In many cases, a bar association or other type of legal organization will operate a lawyer referral service to connect its member lawyers with people in need of their help. The service may arrange free or reduced rate consultations for the people who use it. It may also arrange for users to get discounts off a lawyer’s normal hourly rate. Additionally, a lawyer referral service may even arrange for users to obtain limited telephone advice from the lawyers who participate in the service.

A lawyer referral service helps connect individuals with licensed lawyers.
A lawyer referral service helps connect individuals with licensed lawyers.

In many cases, a bar association or other type of legal organization provides referral services to the public for free or for a small fee. This is usually intended to provide people living in a certain area with improved access to legal help when they need it. It may also help to ensure that members of the public have access to well-qualified, reputable lawyers instead of having to guess about which lawyers may have good reputations and good standing with the local bar association.

A lawyer referral service may help the lawyers on its list as well. This type of service refers new clients to these lawyers and helps them enjoy additional exposure and increase their client bases. Often, however, lawyers who participate in this type of service have to charge the referred clients reduced fees. For example, they may be required to take a percentage off their usual fees as a condition of participation. They may also have to offer free or reduced-fee consultations to those referred through the service.

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Typically, lawyer referral services charge minimal fees for connecting individuals with lawyers. Others, however, may refer people to lawyers for free. Some lawyer referral services may also refer individuals to pro bono attorneys who take on clients who cannot afford to pay.

Often, a lawyer referral service will offer referrals to lawyers who specialize in a range of different types of law. They may, however, focus most heavily on the categories of legal help the average person is likely to need. For example, this type of service may connect people to lawyers who handle family law matters and landlord-tenant disputes. A lawyer referral service may also connect individuals to lawyers who handle bankruptcy, real estate, criminal, and personal injury matters. Additionally, this type of service may refer individuals to lawyers who handle employment and insurance law cases.

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