Should I Call a Lawyer Referral Service?
If you have been injured in an accident and are seeking legal counsel, you might have noticed advertisements for lawyer referral services. Instead of contacting a personal injury lawyer directly to handle your claim, these services could recommend options for you based on your needs.
Just like attorneys themselves, the quality of a lawyer referral service could vary dramatically. If a service has a financial interest in pushing you toward a certain lawyer, you might not end up with the attorney that best suits your needs.
What is a lawyer referral service?
A lawyer referral service is not a law firm; they may not even be run by attorneys. Instead, these services provide applicants seeking legal counsel with referrals for an attorney. The problem with these services – particularly when they are for-profit – is that they select lawyers depending on whether or not they have paid a fee.
In essence, these referral services can be little more than a form of advertising. For some for-profit referral services throughout the country, whether or not an attorney has paid a fee could be the only factor they consider. This is not conducive to helping an injured person obtain the legal counsel they need.
There are a few things you should consider when dealing with these services. First and foremost: who owns them? If you are working with a referral service operated by a state or county bar association, you are more likely to be dealing with people that are genuinely trying to help. The same is not always true for privately-owned referral services.
It is also worth paying attention to their approach. Are they genuinely interested in providing you with options? Are they pushy or aggressive? Do they dissuade you from doing your own research into a firm? There are several red flags when it comes to referral services.
Are these services regulated in California?
In many jurisdictions, lawyer referral services are entirely unregulated. While law firms must carefully follow ethics rules regarding how they may advertise, some states allow these services to make claims that lawyers may not. California regulates these services, however.
The California Supreme Court sets out special rules regarding the standard for lawyer referral services. To be certified, a service must meet these basic requirements. What’s more, the American Bar Association also recognizes certain referral services throughout the country that meet their own minimum standards.
Even a lawyer referral service approved by the California Supreme Court might not provide you with the best option in your situation. Often, it is best to find your own Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.
The value of doing your own research
Your injury claim is too important to put in the hands of someone that may not have your best interests at heart. By working with a lawyer referral service, you take away your ability to do your own research. While this process can be time-consuming, seeking the answer to important questions from a prospective attorney could ensure you get the legal representation you are happy with.
There are several questions worth asking during an initial consultation with a lawyer. When you go through a referral service, you might not get the opportunity to ask those questions. Some valuable questions to ask of an attorney include:
- How many jury trials have you handled personally?
- What is the largest settlement in your career?
- Have you resolved a case similar to mine?
- What were your tactics in that case?
- Will you handle my case or give it to an associate?
- Can I contact you directly?
- What is your fee structure?
- Will I owe anything if you are not successful?
Discuss your options with a seasoned attorney
The advantages of selecting your own L.A. personal injury lawyer should not be overlooked. While lawyer referral services might seem convenient, they are often no different than ads you would see on the side of a bus. Your claim is important, and you will likely receive the best outcome if you carefully select your legal counsel.
At Ellis Injury Law, we are always prepared to answer any questions you have about your claim. The initial consultation is always free, and you can contact us at any time. We look forward to hearing from you.