When the need for an attorney arises, it can present a challenging situation. Chances are, you want to speak with an attorney as quickly as possible. However, finding a reputable attorney to work with out of the many who might be available is not always easy. There are a variety of resources available to help you locate the Pennsylvania attorney who is right to help you with your legal problem.

Where should I Start My Search for an Attorney?

A good place to start your search is with the attorney referral services available in your state, city or other jurisdiction (such as your county). Attorney referral services may also be called lawyer referral services, or LRS. Each state in the United States has its own state bar association, which licensed attorneys in the state must be members of. A bar association will generally have a lawyer referral service in order to assist members of the public searching for an attorney.

In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) has an LRS, which covers 45 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania. Other counties may have their own lawyer referral services (and bar associations). In order to utilize the service, the easiest thing to do is to call the PBA. You might also want to check out the PBA website, and go to the section on how to find a lawyer. However, you’ll want to call the PBA to give your information and get a referral.

Are all  Attorneys Listed in an LRS?

Not all practicing attorneys are automatically included in the listings for LRS attorneys. The ones who do, do so of their own volition, and specify what their practice areas are. For example, if you are seeking a divorce, you will want to have a referral for a lawyer in your area who specializes in divorce or family law. Lawyers who agree to do this work also agree to offer very inexpensive, short consultations to people who utilize the service. Also, there is no charge for simply contacting the LRS to ask for an attorney referral.

If you live in a Pennsylvania county that is not covered by the Pennsylvania Bar Association LRS, you can check with your county’s bar association to see if they have their own referral service. The information for the counties that are not covered, and their phone numbers, are also available on the PBA website. 

In some cases, cities also have their own bar associations and lawyer referral services. For example, Philadelphia has its own bar association, with a lawyer referral service which may be used by putting in your information on their website. Or, you may call the bar association.

What other Lawyer Referral Services are Available?

There are some other lawyer referral services which serve more specific needs. Pennsylvania is home to many associations that serve these specific types of legal interests. For example, the Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association, in the mid-state area of Pennsylvania, provides referral services for people who need representation for a bankruptcy, and who meet poverty guidelines. These associations will not be as large as statewide bar associations like the PBA, and, therefore, will not have as many attorney doing referral work for them.

As discussed above, you can contact some the referral services at bar associations primarily by phone. However, some LRS programs have websites which allow you to input some of your information to start the process of finding you an attorney. Whether you call or go online, you will start by giving the basics about your legal issue to the LRS. 

They will then match you with an available attorney, based on the subject matter of your legal issue, and will give you their contact information. You can then set up a consultation with the attorney, to see if they are right for your case, and there will be a small fee for the consultation. 

In order to remain in good standing as licensed attorneys, all lawyers must adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct for their state. This means that any lawyer who is qualified to represent you, and who is offering their services through a lawyer referral service program, will be bound by the ethical code which applies to Pennsylvania lawyers. 

The rules include not only matters of how attorneys should conduct themselves ethically, but also include rules regarding fees and referrals. Attorneys may be reported for violations of the conduct rules. The LRS you work with should have a way for you to report any unethical conduct by your attorney. 

What other Attorney Matching Services are There?

It is to your benefit to do some of your own research on any attorney you work with. If you qualify as being in need financially, you may be able to get a lawyer matched with you by your local Legal Aid office. There are also other attorney match services, such as LegalMatch, which can help connect you with a Pennsylvania lawyer. This service is free of charge.