State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral and Information Service

For San Antonio attorney Rafael Baca, the State Bar Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) provides opportunities for him to help and talk to people from all areas of the state. “Most of the time they are people in the smaller parts of Texas,” said Baca, who practices intellectual property law. “I enjoy helping people. They just need a little guidance that is always greatly appreciated.”

Baca said he receives two to three referrals a month from LRIS, which serves the dual purpose of helping Texans find a lawyer and assisting attorneys in building their practices. The phone- and website-based LRIS generates thousands of public inquiries every month from more than 240 counties across Texas where there is no local lawyer referral program. The program does not include Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Jefferson, Nueces, Tarrant, and Travis counties, which all are covered by local referral programs.

Baca is a member of the San Antonio Bar referral service, but he also joined the State Bar program to get referrals from outside Bexar County. “The State Bar referrals, for the most part, include a broader mix of intellectual property issues,” he said. “Even people who are not a match … I still enjoy our visit."

Lawyers who participate in LRIS agree to provide all referral clients an initial consultation of up to 30 minutes for no more than $20, a fee which the attorneys keep.

If the lawyer and client agree to continue with the case, the attorney’s standard fees apply for the services provided. Ten percent of total fees are remitted back to LRIS in cases that generate attorney’s fees of $500 or more.

LRIS made 60,965 referrals during 2011–12, including 3,832 from the online system. Overall, 40 percent went to LRIS panel members, 35 percent to local referral services, and 25 percent to other resources.

Lawyer referrals go online

The State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS) has launched a new online service to more efficiently connect lawyers and clients, 24 hours a day. The service is available via the LRIS website.

The State Bar LRIS covers areas of Texas not served by local referral services. These are generally non-metropolitan areas. Members of the public who use the service pay a $20 fee for an initial 30-minute consultation with an attorney. Attorneys pay an annual fee to be part of the LRIS plus a percentage of any fees generated.

Before the launch of this online service, referrals by the State Bar LRIS were done by phone and only during business hours, Monday through Friday. The online service is available anytime and allows the public to fill out an online form and instantly receive the name of an attorney who might handle their matter. The attorney also receives an email notification with the client's contact information. With the old system, attorneys received only a monthly report reflecting the previous month's activity.

LRIS director Denny Sheppard says her program has seen an uptick in the total number of referrals after less than two weeks of offering the online referral tool. LRIS continues to operate a toll free number where people can call and be matched with an attorney.

In November, State Bar LRIS plans to launch an online portal where LRIS attorneys can pay dues and referral fees.

For more on LRIS, visit www.texasbar.com/LRIS