Can I Trust A Lawyer Referral Service?
If you’re in the business of law, you may have heard of something called a lawyer referral service. This is an arrangement in which a third party (not an attorney) acquires possible clients to sell to subscribing attorneys. These services are subject to approval by the state bar, or the ethics drafted by the bar. As online marketing advances, these referral services are becoming more popular.
Read on to learn more about the different types of referral services.
Lead Generation Services
This type of lawyer referral service makes lawyer-client matches by use of features on a company website. Pre-screened attorneys are selected based on their area of practice, level of experience, and disciplinary records. A prospective client will provide information about their legal needs through the service site, which is then forwarded to the subscribing lawyers. Think of it almost as a matchmaking website, but for lawyers and clients rather than romantic partners. An attorney can accept the referral and then go on to reach out to the client based on the contact information provided.
Outsourced Client Retention
This type of lawyer referral service works by selling “ready” cases at a rate that depends on the claim. The matching process is similar to lead generation services, but this type has the prospective client signing the subscribing attorney’s retention agreement rather than sending client information to the attorney for consideration. The signed agreement is then sent to the attorney for acceptance. If an attorney declines to accept it, it gets “returned.”
What To Look For In A Lawyer Referral Service
Before deciding to use a referral service, consider the following questions:
- What is the primary communication method the service uses to find clients?
- Does the service verify that acquisition methods comply with the standards set by the state bar?
- Are prospective clients screened first? If so, how and for what?
- Are employees for the service company trained?
Make Sure To Read The Fine Print
As with any type of contract, it’s always a good idea to read and understand the fine print before committing to anything. Ideally, the referral company will be willing to negotiate a service agreement, in which the services provided, as well as rules of operation, are described in detail. It should also include other relevant terms and conditions, such as:
- Specific criteria in the service description.
- Warranties related to acquisition practices and marketing.
- Full compliance with the law and state bar.
- Compliance with client disclosures as required by the state.
- Provisions related to verification or auditing of the company.
- Any provisions that are relevant to the client’s legal needs.
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