Finding and hiring an experienced attorney who practices in the particular field of law that a person needs for their particular legal issue can be challenging. Therefore, many people begin searching for an attorney with an attorney referral service.
An attorney referral service is essentially a service that maintains a network of attorneys. The service provider refers people needing legal representation to attorneys in its network with the appropriate expertise.
Generally, when a person uses an attorney referral service, they first contact the service provider. The referral service provider then directs the person to an attorney in their network who practices in the area of law needed for their legal issue. For example, over 50,000 individuals in Texas turn to the State Bar of Texas lawyer referral and information service when beginning their search for an attorney.
The Texas State Bar’s lawyer referral service is https://www.texasbar.com. The homepage has a link to the Texas State Bar’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service. A person can contact the Lawyer Referral and Information Service by phone or online. The service can refer a person to an attorney.
The service also offers legal help to people with low incomes and few assets. Its mission is to provide more access to the justice system for all Texans, even those who cannot afford high-priced lawyers.
Another service for low-income Texans can be found at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, which advertises itself as the second-largest legal aid provider in the U.S. and the largest one in Texas. It can be accessed at https://www.trla.org.
This non-profit organization offers civil legal services free of charge to the residents of 68 counties in southwest Texas. It also represents migrant and seasonal farm workers in Texas and 6 other southern states. It also operates public defender programs serving at least 10 Texas counties, providing legal representation to low-income people accused of criminal offenses.
Some lawyer referral services have an automated system that directs potential clients to attorneys in the network. With this kind of system, there is a great possibility that the attorney to whom a person is referred may be unable to meet their specific legal needs.
The attorney may also expect to be paid more than the person can realistically afford. So, a person wants to understand how attorney referral services operate to ensure they choose the best attorney referral service provider for them.
Should I Use an Automated Referral Service Provider?
As mentioned above, many attorney referral services in Texas have an online system through which a person can request a referral. These can be quite convenient because they allow a person to submit information regarding their particular legal issue immediately. The service then provides the person with the contact information for an attorney in its network.
However, one problem with automated systems, as opposed to systems that are not automated and run by humans, is that the online system may not fully understand a person’s legal issue. It also might not take a person’s financial means into account.
Therefore, many people prefer a system that is not automated system when they look for an attorney. They find a system that works with a human being who collects information from a person and makes the referral is better able to understand the person’s legal issue. Also, a human operator can collect relevant financial information and make appropriate referrals for a person’s financial status.
The State Bar of Texas also certifies referral services operated by county bar associations, as well as non-profit public service organizations.
How Are Attorney Referral Services Organized in Texas?
Texas is unique in that it has 254 counties, far more than any other state in the U.S. Importantly, the county where a person lives probably has “jurisdiction” over their legal issues. “Jurisdiction” refers to a court’s authority to call all parties into the courthouse to resolve a legal controversy.
A person must locate an attorney in their area or the area that may have jurisdiction over their particular legal issue. Thus, attorney referral services in Texas are organized by county. So, the Dallas Bar Association referral service serves the Dallas area, while the “Harris County Bar Association” serves Houston and the surrounding areas.
However, the number of attorneys in the county bar association referral services network may sometimes be limited in the number of attorneys in their network. Therefore, it may be better to use a for-profit or statewide referral service to find more attorneys and possibly attorneys who are more experienced.
If a person knows the type of lawyer they need, a private legal association that works specifically in that area of the law may also be a good option for connecting with an attorney qualified to assist them.
Are There Other Ways to Find a Lawyer?
A person may have a few other options depending on their circumstances. For example, the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantees an attorney to defend a person charged with a crime if conviction of the crime could lead to imprisonment for 6 months or more.
Some state constitutions guarantee a person criminal defense for any crime with which they are charged. So a person can tell the judge who presides at their arraignment that they want an attorney but cannot afford one. The judge should appoint a lawyer to represent the person at the government’s expense.
A person’s insurance policies might also provide them with a legal defense in certain civil cases. If a person is sued because they were involved in a car accident, their car insurance may provide them with a lawyer at the insurance company’s expense. If a person is sued by someone injured in their home, their homeowners’ insurance may provide them with a lawyer at the expense of the company that issued their homeowners insurance.
If a person is sued for professional malpractice or in connection with business activities, their professional liability or business liability insurance may provide them with a defense lawyer. So, if a person is sued, they want to review their insurance policies and find out if any of them might provide the person with legal representation.
Is There a Fee for Using an Attorney Referral Service?
As can be seen, using an attorney referral service can help a person avoid the confusion of tracking down an attorney who is qualified to help them with their particular legal issue. It is important to understand that most attorney referral services may charge a fee to use their services. This fee is separate from any fee a person may have to pay the attorney with whom they are connected.
When a person consults with an attorney to whom they are referred by service, if they decide to hire the attorney to represent them in a matter, they want to make sure they clearly understand how the attorney expects to be paid and in what amount. They should have a written agreement that spells out the terms of the attorney’s employment.
Of course, a person should remember that they do not have to hire an attorney to whom they are referred. They are free to consult with the lawyer and then continue their search until they find the attorney with whom they have the most confidence.
However, most attorney referral services typically do not charge the client seeking to connect with an attorney. They charge the attorney who is seeking referrals of potential clients. Generally, an attorney is the party who pays the fees for getting listed with an attorney referral service. A person can always ask the referral service they contact about any fees it may charge.
What Should I Do Before Using an Attorney Referral Service in Texas?
You must be prepared well before using an attorney referral service in Texas. The more prepared you are before contacting an attorney referral service, the quicker and easier you may get the right referral.
You should prepare an honest written statement outlining your legal issue. You also want to organize any evidence or legal documents related to the issue. It is important to show the attorney any legal documents you may have received. For example, if you are a named party in a lawsuit that has already started, the lawyer you contact needs to know this.
LegalMatch can also help you locate a well-qualified and knowledgeable Texas attorney in your area who is qualified to assist you with your legal needs. All the Texas attorneys who work with the LegalMatch referral service must be licensed to practice law and in good standing with the State Bar of Texas. This means the attorney is experienced and ready to work for you.