LRIS: Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a lawyer? Here are a few answers to questions that you may have.LRIS video on YouTube and learn about our services
1. What happens when I call the Lawyer Referral and Information Service?
When you call LRIS, you will speak with an interviewer who is experienced in analyzing potential legal problems like yours. LRIS interviewers are not attorneys, but are trained to help you decide if you need one, or if other assistance is appropriate. If a lawyer's advice is recommended, an appointment will be made for you, usually within two working days.
Our staff will consider your specific legal problem, as well as your location and language requirements in order to make the most appropriate and convenient referral possible.
To enable our staff to provide the proper assistance, please be prepared to explain your legal problem. You will be referred to an attorney who has met established standards of professional experience in the area, or areas, of law that relate to your legal matter. An initial consultation with an attorney will be arranged for you, but you are under no obligation to retain the attorney to whom you are referred.
Our legal interviewers are available between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. each weekday at (415) 989-1616 or www.sfbar.org/lawyerreferrals. All communication is held in the strictest confidence.
2. Do I really need a lawyer?
Last year approximately eighty percent of the fifty thousand individuals who contacted LRIS did not need to see a private attorney. Instead, these people were either given the information they needed directly by LRIS staff or were referred to one of over two hundred other community organizations or governmental agencies from the LRIS list of resources.
3. Will I get an experienced attorney?
All LRIS attorneys have been carefully screened for experience and other qualifications.
On average, LRIS attorneys have been practicing law for twenty years and are skilled in over one hundred areas of law, including family law, estate planning, landlord-tenant rights, real property, personal injury, and corporate and business law.
4. How much will it cost?
In most cases, there is a $35 administrative fee for an initial half-hour consultation with an LRIS attorney. If you have been injured, this fee is waived.
If you decide to hire the attorney, you should discuss fees with the attorney during the initial consultation. It is important to understand how the fees are determined and when they will need to be paid.
The attorney will provide a written agreement that states what services will be performed and what the services will cost. In situations when it is impossible to determine the exact fee, the attorney will provide an estimate.
5. What if I've been in an accident?
If you have been physically injured at work, at home, or in an accident, attorney fees are often dependent on your receiving a settlement. Usually the attorney's fee will be based on a percentage of your settlement.
Cases of legal malpractice and medical malpractice are often handled in the same way.
6. Do I have to pay if I have been injured?
There is no charge for a referral to a lawyer if you have been injured. LRIS provides free referrals for personal injury and workers' compensation cases. If you have been physically injured at work, at home, or in an accident, attorney fees are often dependent on your receiving a settlement. Usually the attorney's fee will be based on a percentage of your settlement.
7. Can I be referred to a mediator?
Yes. Please visit Voluntary Early Mediation in our Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) section to learn more.
8. What will I need for the initial consultation?
In order to make the most of your first consultation with an attorney, you should bring all relevant documents and information.
The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people involved and documents, such as lease agreements and contracts, will help the attorney understand your particular problem.
Be prepared to explain your case completely and clearly. Sometimes writing down the important points in advance will help.
9. What if I cannot afford an attorney?
LRIS maintains panels of attorneys who will accept cases at a reduced rate for individuals who meet our income eligibility guidelines.
LRIS referral counselors will be able to tell you if you're eligible for this type of referral. Each situation is evaluated individually, taking into consideration the type of case and your financial circumstances.
10. What is the Military Assistance Program?
The Military Assistance Program (MAP) of the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) assists military personnel and their families, as well as veterans, with legal services for a reduced fee in a wide variety of civil law practice areas, including family law, landlord/tenant, tax, wills, bankruptcy, consumer matters and more. When you call, trained LRIS staff will briefly interview you about your legal situation to refer you to the appropriately experienced attorney. Find out more.