Individuals seeking legal representation from a New York attorney may avail themselves of one of two attorney referral services. One of these services, the New York City Bar Legal Referral Services, serves individuals who reside in the New York City metropolitan area and other populous areas such as Westchester and Albany.

The other referral service, the New York State Bar Association Lawyer Referral Information Service, serves individuals who reside in the less populous New York counties. Both services work by referring an individual in need of legal services with an attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of law in which the individual needs assistance.

What is the New York City Bar Legal Referral Service?

The New York City Bar Legal Referral Service (LRS) is a service founded by the New York City Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers’’ Association. The Legal Referral Service, the oldest in New York, provides a telephone number for individuals seeking an attorney to call. When you call the number, the person you will be speaking with is an attorney.

This attorney, called an “attorney referral counselor” discusses your legal concern with you. In lieu of calling, an individual can submit an online request form that states their legal concern.

After the call is fielded, or the online request is reviewed by a New York State-licensed attorney, the Referral Service determines whether you would benefit from an attorney’s services. If you do, the Referral Service refers you to a lawyer that has been screened, and determined to be qualified, by the Referral Service. This lawyer will have experience in the area of law your legal concern pertains to.

The Service provides legal representation to the more populous areas of New York, including the New York City metropolitan area, as well as Westchester and other highly populated counties.

What Fee Does the New York City Bar Legal Referral Service Charge?

If an individual is referred to an LRS attorney, the individual must then contact the attorney, to schedule an initial meeting. The initial meeting lasts for up to half an hour. The fee depends upon the type of case.

Free consultations are provided for:

  • Personal injury matters, such as slip and fall matters, car accidents injuries; and other injuries that are accidental;
  • False arrest matters;
  • Medical malpractice matters, such as when a doctor has made a mistake during surgery, or made an incorrect diagnosis;
  • Denials of Social Security Disability (SSD) claims; and
  • Denials of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims.

The LRS provides referral services for other matters as well. These matters include (among others):

  • Bankruptcy law;
  • Criminal law;
  • Debt and debt collection law;
  • Employment and labor law;
  • Family law;
  • Immigration law;
  • Landlord-tenant law; and
  • Wills, Trusts, and Estates law.

The initial meeting fee for these matters is $35. If, after the consultation, you decide to hire the lawyer, you and the lawyer will enter into a fee arrangement, to be agreed upon between you and the lawyer.

What is the Lawyer Referral Information Service of the New York State Bar Association?

The New York State Bar Association is a voluntary membership organization for New York attorneys. Membership is not required for an attorney to practice law in New York. The New York State Bar Association provides what it calls a Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS). Individuals seeking legal assistance can call LRIS or make an online request for a referral.

Individuals seeking a referral will be asked the name of the county from which they are calling or submitting the online form, and where in the state they wish to consult with the attorney. The initial phone contact person, as well as the person reviewing the initial online request, is not an attorney, but instead is a counselor. The counselor assists with referring individuals to lawyers.

The LRIS may refer you to an attorney who works in the area to which your matter pertains. The attorney charges $35 for an initial half-hour consultation (free consultations are given for SSD, SSI, medical malpractice, personal injury, unemployment, workers compensation, and veterans or military matters).

During the meeting, the lawyer will decide whether they can represent you. If you and the lawyer agree to have the lawyer represent you, you and the lawyer then enter into an agreement, in which the lawyer charges their standard rate.

Significantly, the LRIS service does not cover every county in New York. The counties that are covered are the less populous ones. Counties not covered include: Albany, Bronx, Brooklyn, Broome, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, New York, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester. 

Do I Need the Help of a New York Attorney?

If you have a legal matter or issue requiring resolution and are seeking legal representation in New York, you should contact a New York state attorney. This attorney can go over the facts of your case, explain your rights and options, and can represent you at settlement negotiations, hearings, or in court.

If you are having trouble with the above avenues, then you can always use a service like LegalMatch. While LegalMatch is not a referral service, we use sophisticated software to help people with legal troubles find lawyers in their area that are able to handle their type of legal concern and meet their requirements/qualifications.