These sources are useful only to the extent they can give consumers the names of lawyers in a given locality who practice law in a given specialty and who have agreed to have their name put on the list maintained by the Bar Association. For a small fee, usually $25-$30, each attorney on the list agrees to give a fifteen to thirty minute consultation. This can be helpful because consumers can get an opinion from a lawyer as to whether they have a case and whether it is worth pursuing. This can save consumers a great deal of time and effort as opposed to attempting to research the matter on their own. During the consultation, the lawyer should be able to inform the potential client whether the statute of limitations for filing their particular claim has expired or not. Although consumers could do research on their own, just reading the statute may be insufficient to determine whether the statute of limitations has run out; they may have to read the case law on this matter. Regardless of what the attorney tells the consumer regarding their case, they are under no obligation to retain the lawyer’s services.
The following are a short list of directory services available:
- ABA Directory of Lawyer Referral Services—This directory lists state wide and local bar association referral services. The local referral services specify which counties they serve. Each referral service will indicate whether they give referrals for all specialties or exclude certain ones. Information is also given as to whether low fee or pro bono (no fee) programs are provided for low income clients.
- Law and Legal Information Directory by Steven & Jacqueline O’Brien Wasserman—This source has an alphabetical listing by state of referral services located in that jurisdiction. Included are entries for services provided by the state bar as well as local bar associations. Street and web site addresses, regular and toll-free telephone numbers Are provided. If you qualify by income, a listing of legal aid offices arranged alphabetically by state and cities within will include the same information the lawyer referral section provides.
- Web Services—If you do not have access to either of the above titles, you may obtain information on the legal referral services offered by your state bar by logging on to www.findlaw.com. From this cite you will be led to links for each state which in turn will include links to that state’s bar association and the lawyer referral service it provides.