Lawyer Referral Service
Join the LRS
Expand your law practice by joining SCCBA's Lawyer Referral Service as a new attorney or an established professional. Certified by the California State Bar, our service connects you with Santa Clara County clients already seeking legal representation.
The Santa Clara County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service receives approximately 35,000 calls annually. Client referrals from these calls generate nearly $1 million a year in attorney fees for the participating attorneys.
Our friendly and highly-trained SCCBA Lawyer Referral Service staff are bilingual in English and Spanish with over 20 years experience matching qualified lawyers with clients' immediate legal needs. Founded in 1917, Santa Clara County Bar Association administers the largest Lawyer Referral Service in Santa Clara County.
If you are an attorney, either SCCBA member or non-member, interested in joining our Lawyer Referral Program, please contact us at 408.971.6822 or submit our Attorney Application Form.
Public Service Purpose
- To assist clients, who can afford a reasonable fee for legal advice, retain a qualified member of the Bar who has agreed to provide a one-half hour consultation without charge;
- To make available to the public generally the services of qualified attorneys who have indicated a special interest in a particular substantive area of law;
- To encourage a high quality of legal service to the public.Panel Requirements
To be approved as an LRS Panel Attorney, you must meet certain minimum qualifications required by state statute and California State Bar Rules and Regulations.
- Must complete a qualification statement requiring certain qualifications for each substantive law panel for which the attorney applies;
- Must carry legal malpractice insurance; an attorney may obtain malpractice insurance at a reasonable price for LRS referrals through an arrangement with Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company;
- Must agree to establish certain procedures within the attorney's office to facilitate the scheduling of client appointments by SCCBA staff:
- Must certify the malpractice insurance on a yearly basis. Must submit a qualification statement every five years for recertification to the LRS Panel.
Experience Panels Areas of practice include:
*click on the subject area to access the application for that LRS Panel.
The Referral Process
- Clients speak with an LRS staff member about their legal problem;
- Clients receive a 30-minute consultation with a qualified local lawyer in the area of legal expertise they require. Consultations are immediately arranged around your schedule, usually within 24-48 hours.Clients also receive a free second 30-minute appointment with a different lawyer, if requested;
- Clients pay a $41 administration fee to SCCBA's Lawyer Referral Service. All Attorneys in our Lawyer Referral Service charge NO FEE for first 30 minutes.
There is no obligation by you, nor the client, to continue the relationship beyond the first consultation. If the client's problem requires further legal services and they elect to hire you, you and the client will decide the fee to be charged.
This opinion column originally appeared on CalBarJournal.com.
By Carole Conn and Seth Chavez
With an extremely diverse array of marketing opportunities available to lawyers in California, many are opting for an old favorite to source clients and build business: Lawyer Referral Services (LRS).
The first LRS programs in California appeared in the 1930s and 40s. Today, LRS programs operate throughout the state, typically by county, referring cases in every practice area. Regulated by the State Bar of California, LRS groups provide key business building opportunities for lawyers and support the critical access to justice efforts of local bar associations.
LRS certainly isn’t for every lawyer, but it may also be a “best-kept secret.” According to State Bar data, in 2014 there were nearly 6,000 lawyers participating in LRS programs throughout the state. In 2014, California certified lawyer referral services referred over 150,000 cases. At two of the larger LRS programs in California, Los Angeles and San Francisco, some lawyers rely exclusively on LRS to generate new business, while others use LRS to augment other business-building efforts. Participating lawyers in at least one California LRS program have collectively billed more than $10 million in attorney’s fees each year over recent years and some LRS programs have secured a number of seven-figure settlements on behalf of referred clients.
As California lawyers attempt to navigate marketing options and avenues to generate more and better quality leads, LRS programs appear to be gaining momentum with lawyers in California. A recent Daily Journal article noted that between 2007 and 2014, there was a 17 percent increase in the number of lawyers participating. Increased use of LRS could be due to LRS groups reducing law firm marketing costs, as well as reducing intake costs by screening clients in advance and placing cases with the right participants based on types of legal issues, location, client’s ability to pay, language spoken and many other criteria.
LRS programs provide another service to lawyers by offering a safe referral for a potential client. The LRS network is 52 programs strong throughout California, with most counties covered. As such, there is likely a lawyer referral program nearby to send clients who may need assistance with a matter outside a lawyer’s practice area. Because certification by the State Bar mandates adherence to meticulous qualification standards, oversight and monitoring of client representation and insurance requirements for participating members, lawyers who refer clients to certified lawyer referral services are putting the client in the capable hands of trained intake staff and vetted attorneys.
Additionally, LRS intake teams are very knowledgeable about the wealth of legal resources in their county, including free legal services programs, when it is determined that the client’s needs are better served through an appropriate agency or community-based nonprofit. LRS programs refer to local legal agencies, legal clinics, low-cost and pro bono services, community-based nonprofits, governmental agencies and social services to best direct clients to the information they need.
Whether a lawyer has a few years of experience or is more senior, LRS programs can be a great asset, either for the reward of providing a public service and sourcing new clientele or as a reliable, trusted partner for referrals to experienced attorneys and helpful legal resources. For more information, see the bar’s consumer pamphlet online.
Carole Conn is director of public service programs at the Bar Association of San Francisco and Seth Chavez is the director of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service.