Searching for the right attorney can often be a challenging and stressful experience. As a result, many people turn to attorney referral services to help them when they need to find a good attorney.
An attorney referral service is a network of attorneys that directs people to an attorney who has the experience the person needs for their issue and provides them with the contact information for the attorney. Often, the referral service has agreed with the attorneys that the attorneys charge a nominal amount of money, around $35 to $50, for an initial consultation with the clients referred to them by the service.
State and county bar associations in each state offer some referral services. In most states, the state bar association is essentially a government agency or a government-sanctioned entity that licenses and regulates attorneys in the state. In some states, there may also be a bar association that offers voluntary membership to the attorneys in the state. Its purpose would be to advance and improve the legal profession. Both kinds of bar associations might offer attorney referral services to the public.
Are There Attorney Referral Services in Washington State?
In the state of Washington, the Washington State Bar Association is an agency of the Washington State Supreme Court. It is the official professional association for attorneys in the state. It administers the state’s bar exam, licenses attorneys, and disciplines attorneys for professional misconduct. It does not offer a lawyer referral service.
County bar associations are non-profit groups that offer voluntary membership to the attorneys in a county. Many county bar associations provide lawyer referral services to the public. For example, in King County, Washington, the King County Bar Association (KCBA) helps people find lawyers in Seattle and King County. A person can submit an online form to request a referral, and the KDBA promises to respond to the person within one business day.
The KCBA screens the attorneys to which they refer people. They are screened for their experience and good standing with the state bar association. This means that the KCBA confirms that they are licensed to practice law in Washington and have malpractice insurance.
Snohomish County in Washington also offers a lawyer referral service at its website. But it has certain limitations. It does not offer referrals for attorneys who provide no or low-cost service.
During the initial consultation, attorneys do not review documents. It can take several weeks to get a first consultation. The fee for processing a request for a consultation is $35. The 30-minute consultation takes place by telephone. There is an additional processing fee of $1.32. The purpose of the consultation is to ask for advice. There is no guarantee that an attorney will represent a person.
They may also exist under non-profit organizations or legal aid services and sometimes as a service offered by organizations where a membership fee is required to obtain a list of lawyers or information about a particular lawyer.
What Are Some Other Tips to Find Washington State Attorney Referral Services?
If a person knows an attorney or has friends who know attorneys, they might ask them for a referral. The attorney a person knows may not be the right attorney for their case, but they may be able to refer a person to the appropriate attorney or a reliable referral service.
What If I Cannot Afford to Hire an Attorney?
A person charged with a crime has a right to be represented by an attorney if the conviction of the crime could lead to imprisonment for 6 months or more. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees this right. If the person cannot afford to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent them, the state must provide an attorney for them at the state’s expense.
If a person has been charged with a crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney, they should inform the judge of this at their arraignment. The judge then appoints an attorney to represent them. In some states, the state constitution guarantees a person a right to an attorney in all criminal cases, even if the punishment is not at least 6 months in jail or more.
A person does not have a similar right to an attorney in civil cases. So, if a person has a legal problem involving civil law, e.g., eviction or domestic abuse, or wants to write a will, they must pay their lawyer themselves.
Fortunately, some non-profit organizations may provide a person with an attorney at no cost or at an affordable cost. In Washington state, the organization called “Moderate Means” is one such organization. A person must qualify financially for help from this organization.
Northwest Justice CLEAR is another non-profit organization providing volunteer attorneys who give no-cost legal representation to qualified people. Again, a person has to qualify financially, and their case is screened, so they may not provide representation in every case. Their website offers contact information and more.
Can My Insurance Policies Help Me?
A person’s homeowners and auto insurance policies can help them access a lawyer in certain situations. If someone is injured in a person’s home and the person is sued by the person who has been injured, the company that issued their homeowners’ insurance policy may provide a lawyer to defend them in the lawsuit.
Likewise, if a person is involved in a car accident and is sued due to the accident, the company that issued their car insurance policy may provide an attorney to defend the person at the expense of the insurance company.
Paying a lawyer to defend a person in a lawsuit is one of the benefits of several different types of insurance policies, e.g., homeowners insurance, car insurance, professional malpractice insurance, and other types of business liability insurance.
So, before a person who has been sued runs out and hires a lawyer, they want to investigate whether they may have insurance coverage that would provide them with defense at the expense of the insurance company.
Can Legal Match Help Me Find a Good Attorney?
The LegalMatch website is a great service that can match you with an attorney who may be able to help with your particular issue. LegalMatch is not an attorney referral service. Instead, it is proprietary business software.
Unlike a lawyer referral service, a case submitted on LegalMatch is immediately sent to local attorneys, and from there on, the right Washington attorney can reach out to you and let you know if they can take on your case.
There are no fees or obligations for finding and contacting an attorney. Best of all, the lawyers on LegalMatch are pre-screened, their profiles can be read before contacting them, and you can personally review the ratings for each listed lawyer.