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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Behind the Scenes at the Lawyer Referral & Information Service


By Emmy Pasternak, LRIS Community Outreach and Case Development Coordinator


Five days a week, eight hours a day, in eight languages, the legal interviewers of the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) are available to assist the public. Contact the LRIS and your call is quickly answered by one of the seven courteous, helpful, and highly trained legal interviewers who conducts a brief interview without judgment and with an ear tuned to the legal matter at hand. Interview-ers screen each request for the client’s location, income, and relevant legal details.

Our staff knows that legal matters are emotional and stressful. Clients may call in tears or yell in anger and frustration but the interviewers maintain a calm, professional demeanor and act as a guiding hand through what many find to be the overwhelming and intimidating legal field.

This year, the legal interviewer staff will assist approximately 50,000 people through telephone and email requests. In English, Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog, our interviewers are here to assist the diverse population of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The goal of LRIS is to ensure that the legal consumer is provided with information regarding available legal resources, including referrals to experienced attorneys or to appropriate community or governmental agencies, as their needs require. Currently, nearly 500 attorneys participate in LRIS with a collective range of expertise in over 100 areas of law. On average, LRIS attorneys have been in practice for 20 years and a member of LRIS for 11 years. Several times during the year attorneys provide training and informational sessions for the legal interviewers so they have the best information to evaluate
clients’ needs.

Hanson Bridgett Associate David Abella, a 2012 Barristers Club Board member, and a former LRIS legal interviewer, had this to say about his experience on the phones, “I worked as an LRIS legal interviewer before attending law school. It provided invaluable professional experience and an excellent opportunity to deliver direct service to the public. It exposed me to many areas of the law –personal injury, immigration, housing, intellectual property, employment, and more. Additionally, helping clients talk through their legal issues helped me develop better listening and issue-spotting skills. Most importantly, LRIS interviewers really help people in need of assistance, and that aspect of the job meant the most to me.”

LRIS and its team of legal interviewers are trusted, trained professionals, committed to serving the needs of the public and providing the highest quality customer service. If you are a person in need of legal assistance or an attorney who encounters a client with a legal need outside your practice area, you can trust LRIS to quickly assist with finding the most appropriate referral.

For information on how to join the Lawyer Referral and Information Service, please visit our website Read more about our program, download panel applications, and view attorney testimonials. You may also contact LRIS Membership Coordinator, Yvonne Ng, at 415-782-9000 x8750 or for direct service. LRIS is a revenue generating program, the proceeds of which help support BASF’s charitable programs.

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