Consulting with a qualified attorney can answer your questions regarding any legal issues you may be facing, and provide you with advice regarding the best way to proceed. If you do not personally know of any attorneys, however, it may be difficult to know where to start. There are many resources available that can reduce the stress of finding the right attorney to take your case and help resolve your issues.

What Are Lawyer Referral Services?

An attorney referral service is a resource designed to assist people in finding an attorney who practices in the appropriate legal field for their legal issues. 

Generally speaking, attorney referral services are run by the Bar Association of a specific state. Depending on the size of the state, such services may be further broken down by the state’s affiliated city or county’s bar association. Lawyer referral services provided by state and local bar associations usually cost anywhere between $20 to $25 per attorney referral. 

Attorney referral services essentially work the same. First, the potential client finds such a service and then contacts them. Once connected, the client explains why they are seeking an attorney, as well as some of the specifics of their legal issue. Based on the facts provided by the client, the referral service representative will search the attorneys listed in their database and provide the client with the name and contact information of one of their member attorneys.

If you are needing legal help in New Jersey, however, finding that help may prove to be a little more difficult compared to other states. This is due to the fact that the New Jersey Bar does not provide a centralized lawyer referral service. Meaning, there is no one definitive place to go when seeking a New Jersey attorney. There are some alternatives, such as the New Jersey State Bar Association (“NJSBA”) lawyer referral service and many of the local county bar associations which offer referral services that seeking parties may find useful. 

While the New Jersey State Bar Association does not provide a centralized lawyer referral service, they do maintain a list on their website of county bar associations offering referral services. Generally speaking, a potential client may either call in to the referral service and speak with a live person who can provide a referral, or they may access these services online.

It is important to note, however, that the New Jersey State Bar Association recommends that potential clients contact the referral service for the county in which they require legal services, and not contact referral services outside of their county. Additionally, seeking clients may also be limited in the number of referrals that they are allowed to request at one time. What this means is that a seeking client may have to make multiple referral requests in order to get a second opinion on their case.

These New Jersey local attorney referral services are generally free to use, which means that it costs nothing to obtain the attorney’s name and contact information.  However, there may be a small fee for a first meeting with the attorney. Generally speaking, these fees cost between $25 and $50 for a consultation of up to one hour. In many circumstances, however, the initial consultation fee may only provide for the first half hour of consulting.

Some local associations, such as the Atlantic County Bar Association, may also provide general referrals in addition to referrals based on location and specialty. This can be helpful if the client does not need an attorney’s services immediately, but do anticipate a need for legal services in the near future.

What Are Private Attorney Referral Services?

In addition to contacting the local county bar associations, there are several private lawyer referral services that may be utilized. The majority of these private referral services conveniently allow those seeking legal help to search for an attorney online. Additionally, most private services also provide multiple referrals. This means that the seeking party can work from a list of potential lawyers to work with as opposed to just one or two referrals provided from the local bar association.

Although having such a list to work with can seem overwhelming, having multiple referrals at once means that potential clients have a better chance of finding the best attorney suited for their case. As with bar associations who provide attorney referral services, many of these private referral services are free to use. This is commonly because the attorneys included in the service’s database pay to be included, so there is no referral fee for the potential client. Additionally, private attorney referral services often arrange for pre-negotiated lower fees for initial consultations.

How Should I Prepare for an Initial Consultation?

When attending an initial consultation with your new lawyer, it is advised that you be prepared as prepared as possible so that you can make the most out of your first meeting. Generally speaking, initial consultations are charged by the half hour. As such, it is in your best interests to be as organized as possible and have any papers or documents that you think are important to your case ready.

Be prepared to explain the situation to the lawyer you are meeting with, and prepare notes to reference beforehand if needed. In order to provide you with the best and most accurate advice regarding how to proceed with the situation, the attorney must have a clear picture of the circumstances. You should also prepare a list of questions before attending your appointment, so that you do not forget anything once you’re there.

It is also advised that you discuss potential costs and fee structures during this initial consultation. If your issue requires more work than what your initial consultation can resolve, you will want to have a clear expectation of what the expenses will be. Ask for a document outlining attorney’s fees, in writing, so you will know exactly what to expect in terms of financing your case. It is helpful to know exactly what services you are paying for. In some civil cases, the attorney may be willing to work on a contingency basis.

Some examples of what questions you may want to ask at your initial consultation include:

  • Expected costs, as was just discussed;
  • What sort of experience the attorney has that would aid in resolving your issues;
  • What their strategy may be for resolving your case;
  • Any alternatives to going to court that they would consider;
  • Potential outcomes;
  • Who will actually handle your case, if there are multiple attorneys or staff members at one firm; and
  • Your role in the case.

What Should I Know About Hiring a Lawyer in New Jersey?

Something to keep in mind is that you do not have to hire the first lawyer you consult with. The benefit of referral services is that you can obtain several options from which to choose, and find an attorney with whom you are comfortable enough to trust with your case.

Once you are working with an attorney that you are comfortable with, maintain detailed and accurate records of the work on your case. Keep any documents you receive from your lawyer in a safe place, and keep the documents together. Doing so can usually answer any questions you may have, and save you time and money.

Should I Hire a New Jersey Lawyer?

If you are located in New Jersey and find yourself needing legal assistance, contact a New Jersey Lawyer. An experienced and local attorney will be knowledgeable regarding local laws and how those laws may affect your case. Additionally, an attorney will also be able to determine the best course of legal action, and represent you in court as needed.