Finding the right attorney can sometimes be a challenge. For many people, using a lawyer referral service can help narrow down the choices.
Unfortunately, the California State Bar Association does not provide the public with legal advice, and they do not make direct referrals to attorneys. However, the California Bar Association does maintain a listing of various referral services.
Additionally, most California counties and major cities have their own bar association, such as the San Diego County Bar Association or the Sacramento County Bar Association. These may also offer lawyer referral services, although they can be somewhat limited in their geographic scope and may involve a monetary fee.
A main advantage of working with a private lawyer referral service is that you can tailor your search according to your personal background and legal needs. Some private California legal associations serve specific communities, such as the Mexican Bar Association of Los Angeles County or the Bay Area Association of Muslim Lawyers.
Other legal associations may focus on specific areas of law like nursing home laws or senior citizen’s rights. Lawyer referral services are generally not binding on the client- if you are unsatisfied with your results, you are free to contact a different service.
Lawyer referral services can also have their disadvantages as well. The main setback with private lawyer referral services is that they often charge as series of fees even before you establish solid contact with an attorney. Many services charge fees simply for providing an attorney’s contact information. It is usually up to you, the client, to make the first phone call to the attorney for initial consultation, which costs an additional fee.
Most lawyer referral services do not allow clients to conduct an in-depth screening check before selecting an attorney. Nevertheless, private lawyer referral services are required to follow several guidelines to ensure the quality of their legal services. For example, Model Rules require lawyers to provide proof of financial capability before enrolling with a referral service.
There are plenty of lawyer referral services available in California. If you are still unsure of which service is right for you, you can work with other organizations such as LawyerReferralServices.org, which maintains a comprehensive listing of California lawyer referral services by county.