Premium Lawyer Referral Service Rules
Revised by ISBA Board of Governors January 25, 2008
The Illinois State Bar Association recognizes that there exists a large group of persons of moderate means who have felt that legal services were not readily available. In order to respond to the needs of those persons, it is the position of the Illinois State Bar Association that a lawyer referral service be established.
The immediate objective of the Illinois State Bar Association in the establishment of the Illinois Lawyer Referral Service, hereinafter referred to as the “Service,” is to assist the general public, by providing a way in which any person who can afford to pay a reasonable fee for legal services may be referred to a member of the Bar of Illinois.
As long range objectives, the Illinois State Bar Association seeks to:
- Encourage lawyers to recognize the obligation to provide legal services to persons of limited financial means.
- Acquaint people in need of legal services with the value of consultation with a lawyer.
- Acquaint lawyers with the fact that the needs of some clients suggest the use of a deferred payment plan.
II. The Committee
The Delivery of Legal Services committee will be charged with the operation of the Service. It will be composed of members, appointed by the President of the Illinois State Bar Association. A chairman will be selected by the Association's President.
III. The Service
The Service will be operated from the Illinois Bar Center in Springfield, utilizing members of the staff and under the general supervision of the Delivery of Legal Services Committee. A person seeking a lawyer referral will use a direct telephone line maintained at the Illinois State Bar Center and will be interviewed by a staff member. A referral will be made to a participant-member of the Service on a rotating basis upon the agreement of such person to pay an initial fee of not more than $25.00 (effective February 15, 2008) provided the initial consultation does not exceed one-half hour.
The Service shall not make referrals to any lawyer in a geographic area of the state where a formalized and publicized lawyer referral service exists unless the lawyer is willing to accept referrals from other counties within the State.
IV. Formation of the Participant-Member Panel
- Only a member licensed and registered before the Bar of Illinois according to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois may qualify as a participant member.
- Applications for membership will be kept at the Illinois Bar Center in a convenient grouping at the Lawyer Referral Service desk.
- In submitting this application for membership, you may list those branches of legal work in which you wish to receive referrals. If, after submitting your application, you do not desire to handle a certain type of legal work, you must notify the Service immediately so that it can be deleted from your application.
- A member, in filing this application agrees to:
- Grant an initial consultation for a fee not in excess of $25.00 (effective February 15, 2008) to any client referred providing the conference does not exceed one-half hour.
- Reach an agreement with the client regarding the charges for any further legal services in keeping with the stated objectives of the Service.
- Carry, continue to carry, professional liability insurance with minimum coverage amounts of $100,000 per claim/$300,000 annual aggregate and notify the Service immediately if for any reason the insurance coverage terminates or there are any changes to the insurance coverage. If you do not provide to us your professional liability insurance information, we can terminate your membership without reimbursement of your membership fee.
- Authorize the Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission to disclose to the Delivery of Legal Services Committee of the Illinois State Bar Association all information contained in the Commission's file concerning participant-member's present status. I as a participant-member expressly waive whatever right I may have respecting confidentiality required by Supreme Court Rule 766.
- Accept a status of suspension from receiving referrals during such time as a complaint may be pending as voted by the inquiry Board of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and until such time as the complaint is either dismissed or the participant-member is permitted to resume practice by the Illinois Supreme Court.
- Grant all clients referred by the Service an appointment as soon as practicable after request is made.
- Abide by all the rules of the Service and in no event hold, or claim to hold, the Association or any of its officers, members or employees liable in connection with the operation of, or use of the information contained in the application in connection with the activities of the Service.
V. Fee for Membership
Each participant-member of the Service will pay to the Association a non-refundable annual membership fee in such amount as the Board of Governors may establish. The participant-member will make an additional contribution equal to 10% of the total fee of $500.00 or more received from matters referred by the Service. For example, if your total fee equals $650.00, the administrative remittance would be $65.00. Such fees will be used to defray the costs of operation of the Service. The participant-member will determine the total fee in accordance with Rule 1.5 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.
The annual membership for non-Illinois State Bar Association members shall be twice the annual membership fee set for Illinois State Bar Association members plus an amount equal to the highest dues rate charged for Illinois State Bar Association membership.
VI. Withdrawal from Membership
A participant-member may at any time withdraw his/her name from participation in the Service upon five (5) days written notice to the Illinois Lawyer Referral Service addressed to the Illinois Bar Center. Subject to this action is the responsibility to remit 10% of each fee which totals $500.00 or more received from matters referred by the Service prior to receipt of notice of withdrawal.
VII. Operations of the Participation-Member Panel
- Referrals will be made to participant-members of the panel in rotation in the geographic area closest to the client's home or business.
- Participant-members will accept any referral for initial interview for those matters which a member has selected on his/her application that he/she is willing to handle. Nothing herein will be construed to obligate a participant-member to accept employment beyond the initial consultation.
- Participant-members shall not initiate contact with clients referred by the Service. Solicitation of client after referral is specifically prohibited.
- Consultation with a partner or associate of the member by the client will be deemed an acceptance of the referral for initial interview by a participant-member.
- In case you, as a member of the Lawyer Referral Service, can not or does not handle the type of legal matter in which a caller has been referred on, it is entirely proper for you to forward the case to a partner in your law firm who does handle that type of legal matter. The firm would be obligated to follow the LRS guidelines concerning fee arrangements.
- If the Service forwards a client to you and it is determined there is a conflict of interest in handling the case, you should inform the client that the client may seek another referral (and, indeed, you may wish to call the Service while the client is present to assist). If the matter is of some urgency, you are free to refer the client to another attorney. That attorney would not be required to follow LRS requirements and the client should be informed of same; however, we would like to know to whom you referred the client when you send back the client contact report.
VIII. Acknowledgment and Report of Referrals
The participant-member will complete and return a referral report, forwarded by the Service within thirty (30) days after each referral and will complete and return a report(s) for each fee which totals $500.00 or more received from matters referred by the Service together with a remittance of 10% of such fee within ten (10) days of the receipt of the fee. For example, if the total fee collected was $650.00 the administrative remittance would be $65.00. Failure to return the referral or fee report(s) with remittance of 10% of each fee totaling $500.00 or more within the time specified may justify the Service in removing his/her name from the panel. Nothing herein will require any lawyer to violate the lawyer-client privilege.
The Service will keep a file on confidential record of all referrals and reports of participant-members which will be subject to examination and inspection by the Committee and officers of the Association.
The Service will be publicized in such manner and to such extent as will fulfill its objective consistent with the canons of ethics.
These rules shall be amended only with the approval of the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association.
I hereby agree to meet and abide by all of the ARDC standing/insurance requirements and rules set forth in the section above.