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LRIS for Attorneys: Program Overview


Program History and Overview

The Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS), the oldest and largest public service program of The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF), has been providing information and attorney referrals to persons in need since 1946.  In that year BASF established LRIS to help meet the legal needs of veterans of World War II.  From its inception, the public service nature of the program has been paramount.  Opting for the broadest possible definition of "veteran," BASF established the mandate of the LRIS in the original rules governing the service as follows: "Any person who contacts the Association . . . and is in need of legal services . . . will be referred to a member of the Reference Service Panel.”  This commitment to providing access to legal services to all groups continues to drive the success of the program.

The Mission of the LRIS

  • To educate as many people as possible about their legal rights;
  • To give as many people as possible access to affordable, competent legal representation;
  • To study cultural trends and investigate current social and political realities, in order to identify those most in need of access to our system of justice;
  • To modify and expand our capabilities and services in order to accomplish the above.

Attorney Referral Services for the Public

The LRIS receives approximately 50,000 inquiries by telephone and through the Internet each year from individuals seeking legal assistance from San Francisco and Marin County attorneys.  A multilingual staff of trained legal interviewers carefully screens each call or inquiry to determine the nature of the problem.  If the client is to be referred to an attorney, a brief synopsis of the case is prepared, and the client is referred for an initial consultation with an insured, experienced attorney through the Service.  The client’s eligibility for low–cost services and pro-bono legal services are also determined and referrals are made accordingly through the LRIS’ Low-Fee Referral Program or BASF’s Justice and Diversity Center (previously known as the Volunteer Legal Services Program).

LRIS Attorney Network

More than 500 attorneys participate in LRIS.  They have been in practice for an average of twenty years and have belonged to LRIS for an average of eleven years.  LRIS provides attorneys with an effective way to expand their clientele, while at the same time providing a much needed public service.  Within the initial consultation, time donated by the panel attorneys, many clients receive sufficient guidance to resolve their problem.

LRIS Areas of Practice

To ensure that clients are referred properly, LRIS maintains panels in nineteen substantive areas of law,which are further divided into over 100 subpanels. 

LRIS Attorney Qualifications

Requirements for membership are among the highest of any bar-sponsored referral service in the country.  The quality of services provided by LRIS is monitored by questionnaires sent to each client; the responses to which are overwhelmingly complimentary. 

Click here for attorney applications and information.

LRIS Court-Appointment Programs

LRIS also provides a variety of services to the courts and to members of the Bar.  Through its administration of the Court-Appointment Programs, highly qualified lawyers are readily available for appointment to represent indigent persons in criminal and juvenile delinquency and dependency proceedings, as well as family court.  Volunteer attorneys appear in proceedings in Immigration Court.  Many LRIS attorneys have agreed to work with less experienced lawyers to help them gain the skills and experience needed to join the Court-Appointment Panels.  Others are available to answer questions in their areas of expertise through the Attorney-to-Attorney Advice Program.  This service is available to any attorney, at no cost. 


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