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.