Revisions to the current Lawyer Referral Service Certification Rules are proposed in order to update them and increase access to private attorneys for legal services.
Deadline: November 5, 2018
In March of 2018, the State Bar Board of Trustees added objective c to Goal 4 of the 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, directing staff to review the certified lawyer referral service rules with a goal of reducing or eliminating barriers to access to legal services imposed by the current rules. The proposed revisions reflect that review and are circulated for public comment.
Business and Professions Code sections 6155 and 6156, and the State Bar Rules governing LRSs were adopted for the purpose of regulating lawyer referral services and establishing minimum standards for their operation to protect the public.
Staff has undertaken a comprehensive review of the current LRS rules with an “access lens,” to determine if they impair or limit the public from accessing attorneys and/or if they impede or discourage attorneys from joining a certified LRS (reducing the pool of available attorneys and thereby limiting access) and if so, whether amendments can be made without reducing public protection.
All of the State Bar Rules regarding lawyer referral services have been reviewed with the following analysis in mind:
In all of these cases, the following inquiry was also made: Would amending the rule sacrifice public protection or service quality for greater access?
Using that rubric, this proposal includes amendments to the LRS certification rules to permit use of automated referrals (ones which do not require staff review prior to releasing the name of the referred attorney) to encourage greater use of Certified LRSs. The rules would require quality assurance mechanisms be put in place to ensure appropriate referrals are made through this process.
The proposals also include, for example, amendments to eliminate the requirement that LRSs submit a separate application for each county in which it operates, reduce the fee for applying for certification as an LRS in multiple counties; and permit attorneys to participate on panels in multiple counties.
A change is also proposed to better align with the requirement of Business & Professions Code section 6155(f)(5) that requires LRSs to establish services for persons of limited means.
Rule changes would also revise the appeal process for those whose certification application is denied, and would eliminate the provision making complaints and investigations confidential.
Reduced revenue attributable to reduced fees for multicounty applications; increased revenue resulting from anticipated increase in programs serving multiple counties.
Revisions to the Lawyer Referral Service Certification Rules, Request to Circulate for Public Comment
November 5, 2018
Office of Access & Inclusion
State Bar of California
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
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