The San-Francisco-Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS), the oldest and largest public service program of the Bar Association of San Francisco, has been providing information and attorney referrals to people in need since 1946.
Our mission is 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; and to modify and expand our capabilities and services in order to accomplish the above.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What happens when I call the SF-Marin 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.
Please be prepared to briefly explain your legal issue. This helps our staff make an appropriate referral. Our staff will consider your specific legal problem, as well as your location, appointment time preference, and language requirements in order to make the most appropriate and convenient referral possible.
You will be referred to an attorney who has met standards of professional experience in the area of law related to your legal matter. An initial consultation with an attorney will be arranged for you, but you are under no obligation to hire the attorney for further help.
Our legal interviewers are available between 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.; 1:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. PST each weekday at (415) 989-1616. You can also submit your case online. All communication with LRIS staff is held in the strictest confidence and we care about your privacy.
Do I really need a lawyer?
Last year, approximately 80% of the 50,000 individuals and businesses who contacted LRIS did not need to see a private attorney. Instead, these people and entities were either given the information they needed directly by LRIS staff or were referred to one of over 200 other community organizations or governmental agencies from the LRIS list of resources.
Will I get an experienced attorney?
All LRIS attorneys have been qualified to receive referrals and have been carefully screened for experience. On average, LRIS attorneys have been practicing law for 20 years.
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 for further help, 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.
How much will it cost 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 on a contingency fee basis. This is an arrangement wherein the attorney’s fees are taken at the time of your settlement or verdict. Typically, at the time of settlement or verdict, the attorney will charge you for costs by deducting them from the settlement, but this may not always be the case so be sure to ask at the time of your consultation.
Cases of legal malpractice and medical malpractice are often handled in the same way.
Do I have to pay a consultation fee to the attorney 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.
In a few other cases, for example, legal issues related to social security, there also is no charge for the first consultation.
Can the LRIS refer me to a mediator?
Referrals to mediators are handled through the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program. Please visit Mediation Services to learn more.
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 and be sure to bring a list of questions you may have for the lawyer to be sure that you get all of the information you need. Sometimes writing down the important points in advance will help.
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.
What if I need a lawyer outside of San Francisco and Marin County?
Most locations in the United States have non-profit lawyer referral services that may be able to help. Please go to www.LRSconnect.org to locate the lawyer referral service near you.
Learn More About the San Francisco-Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service
Carole Conn, director of public service programs, SF-Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS):
“Established in 1946 to assist returning World War II veterans, the Lawyer Referral and Information Service has grown to helping tens of thousands of people in multiple languages every year. Our steadfast mission is to provide the public with access to lawyers, legal advice, and appropriate legal resources. Legal matters can be stressful at the lawyer referral service. We want to minimize that stress.”
Nancy Sholkin, LRIS client:
“Most people, when they find themselves in crisis, will go to the internet or the yellow pages or a friend. However, the San Francisco attorney referral service interviews and checks the background and pre-screens in every way possible.”
Randy Knox, member and former chair, LRIS Oversight Committee:
“They have access to over 250 agencies with resources that can help people, and a consultation with a qualified attorney is only $35.”
“They knew what they were talking about and they encouraged me and offered me further advice when I needed it.”
“Our first focus is you, the consumer, making sure that there are protections in place that makes sense, so that you can get the competent legal assistance you need.”
“It was a huge load off my mind to know that I'd be seen the next day by someone that was very experienced and provided me with the answers I needed to be successful.”
Need a Lawyer in San Francisco or Marin County?
There are many attorney referral services available online. You should know that the SF-Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service is certified by the State Bar of California and approved by the American Bar Association and meets the high standards set by each. As the largest and oldest public service program of the Bar Association of San Francisco, we’ve been referring individuals like you for over 70 years.
Read about some of the advantages of using LRIS, or any certified lawyer referral service, over an online directory of attorneys or attorney websites.