The Lawyer Referral and Information Service
At the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral & Information Service (LRIS) Barbara Arsedo, Jennifer Comages and Emily Day are busy. They handle over 12,000 calls and online requests each year from members of the public who contact them with legal-related problems covering everything from family law, criminal defense, personal injury, probate and estate planning to real estate, business law, landlord-tenant, bankruptcy, consumer law and labor/employment law. That’s about 46 calls each day from people who have pressing legal issues and are actively looking for an attorney.
Barbara Arsedo has been with the CCCBA for almost eight years. As Coordinator of the Lawyer Referral and Information Service and Moderate Means programs she works with attorney panelists as well as clients in need of attorneys. She is also fluent in Spanish, and handles the incoming calls from Spanish speakers. “I make sure the case status for each attorney is current and all payments to the LRIS are recorded correctly,” she said. “I also recruit attorneys for our Moderate Means programs, and make sure that newer attorneys who sign up get the training they need to take on these cases.”
At the 2016 ABA National Lawyer Referral Workshop, Barbara was one of four panelists at the plenary session discussing
innovative ways to market the CCCBA’s LRIS.
She explained how the CCCBA program is advertised at the courts in a variety of ways, including on the bottom of all court forms that are distributed by bailiffs and court clerks. Special red phones in the family law and civil court houses in Martinez connect directly to CCCBA’s LRIS phone lines. Pads of small flyers, bookmarks and sticky notes are distributed widely through the courts and social services agencies, all of the libraries in the county, and many senior citizens centers. The CCCBA distributes LRIS coasters to CCCBA members as a reminder of the service. The coasters are imprinted, Can’t help a Client? Call us! Other marketing includes ads on
Google, Facebook, Twitter posts and of course links on the website (cccba.org).
Because of her close association with the state bar, Barbara was quoted in a 2015 California Bar Journal article about CCCBA’s Moderate Means program, which receives approximately two or three applications each week. The program, and CCCBA member attorneys, help make quality legal support a reality for moderate income clients. As an adjunct to the Lawyer Referral & Information Service, this important program offers reduced-fee representation in family law, immigration, housing and elder law matters. It is designed to make legal services available for those who do not qualify for pro bono services but who still do not have the means to retain attorneys at their usual rates. Moderate Means clients pay participating attorneys a modest retainer and hourly rate that fit within the program guidelines. Panel attorneys come from all different legal backgrounds and experience levels.
LRIS – International Exposure
In August of 2016, a delegation of attorneys from Japan visited CCCBA and met with Theresa Hurley and Barbara Arsedo. They were interested in how CCCBA’s LRIS and Moderate Means programs work as they were considering setting up programs for a nationwide Japanese LRIS. During the meeting with the CCCBA they discussed LRIS program administration, fee structure, marketing, and the role of the moderate means program. The delegation also met with the State Bar of California, Bar Association of San Francisco, and Santa Clara County Bar Association.
How the LRIS Can Help
As a result of the 12,000 calls received each year from people looking for legal representation, the CCCBA LRIS team referred more than 5,500 potential clients to CCCBA members who have joined the LRIS. While some of those resulted in a single consultation, almost 650 went on to business relationships that generated $1.3 M to CCCBA LRIS panelists.
For the new year, CCCBA has an especial need for more LRIS attorneys who speak Spanish, work in East Contra Costa County, or specialize in housing law. The Moderate Means program is also seeking additional attorney members. To join the LRIS now, contact Barbara at (925) 370-2544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What LRIS Clients have to say…
(Quotes taken from regular LRIS client follow-up surveys.)
About LRIS panelist Uma Subramanian: “I loved how my attorney took the time to listen to what I had to say and ask questions and really try to understand my case.”
About LRIS panelist O’Neil Dennis: “Mr. Dennis is great and very smart. I was very impressed with him. I would refer him to anyone needing a lawyer. I cannot say enough good about him.”
About LRIS panelist Ann Harding Battin: “I am very pleased with the work Ann Battin has done in the probate matter. She worked diligently… I am very pleased with her work and her work ethics.”
About LRIS panelist Robert Miller: “He was helpful, straight forward, no-nonsense and professional. He listened and was able to suggest a course of action that helped tremendously.”
About LRIS panelist John Prentice: “Mr. Prentice has been very helpful. I would return to him if I had another problem and I would recommend him.”
About LRIS panelist Matthew Guichard: “Mr. Guichard was the best experience I have had with an attorney. I got immediate results and [am] eternally grateful for his help.”
About the LRIS referral process: “I was very pleased with the way our referral was handled. The process was simple and efficient and made the search for an attorney feel much less overwhelming. Well worth the $35 fee.”
With distrust of advertising and self-serving websites, the public is looking for a referral source that can be trusted. The CCCBA offers its LRIS as a public service, as a nonprofit organization. The CCCBA’s LRIS is certified by the State Bar of California (Certification #0018) and meets ABA Standards. For attorneys looking to build their practice, the LRIS makes good sense. It is credible, economical and targeted marketing that gives attorneys access to clients who need immediate help.