Lawyer Referral

Eugene M. Elliott, Jr. & Jack L. Harris, Co-Chairs

The Virginia Lawyer Referral Service (VLRS), was established by the Virginia State Bar (VSB) to enhance and to support one of its core missions – “to advance the availability and quality of legal services provided to the people of Virginia”. 

In the fiscal year 2019 -2020, the VLRS answered over 13,000 telephone calls, responded to 395 emails, 108 written correspondences; and provided 898 on-line requests. The VLRS assisted 3,972 of those consumers with prescreened and prepaid referrals to its active lawyer panel members, resulting in  $161,875 revenue for the bar - The VSB Special Committee on Lawyer Referral commends the 299 VLRS lawyer panel members for their (past and present) service to the bar and their communities. The VLRS welcomed 22 first-time lawyer panel members this fiscal year. 

The Special Committee on Lawyer Referral met on Monday, September 23, 2019 and Friday, February 28, 2020.  Committee Members Eugene M. Elliott, Jack L. Harris, Joseph M. Bowen, Angela T. Isabell, John A. Kassabian, Neil S. Lowenstein, D. David Parr, Jr., Todd A. Pilot, and Christopher L. Spinelli welcomed newest committee members, Tonia J. Drewery, Mary K. Hayburn, and Eden B. Heilman and looks forward to their serving. The Committee thanks exiting committee members, D. Adam McKelvey, Sarah M. Morton and Jeannette D. Rogers for their remarkable work for the VSB and the VLRS. 

While awaiting implementations of adopted VLRS rules, the Committee and staff moved forward with the following actions:

New Referral and Members’ Online Platform

On July 1, 2020, changes to the rules governing VLRS went into effect. In anticipation of the changes, the VLRS partnered with, Public Benefits Corporations (PBC), in order to process paid online and staff referrals, panel membership, and collect remitted fees more efficiently. The VLRS new online referral platform was launched on January 17, 2020 with the goal to improve the panel membership experience, and to better attract and connect with potential clients who are seeking more effective ways to finding lawyers that will meet their legal needs.     

Marketing Campaigns for VLRS. 

The Committee members and VLRS staff conducted onsite lawyer panel membership promotions at the following VSB events: VSB Young Lawyer (YLC) Leader’s Institute in Richmond(August 20, 2019), Access to Legal Services Pro Bono Conference in Harrisonburg (October 16, 2019), and the Conferences of Local and Specialty Bar Association (CLSBA) & the Solo and Small-Firm Forum in Harrisonburg (October 23, 2019). VLRS staff spoke (via teleconference) of the need for bi-lingual lawyer panel members statewide at the VSB Diversity Conference Board meeting on September 9, 2019. 

With the assistance of the VSB Communication Department the VLRS has run semi-monthly VSB Virginia Lawyer magazine ads - “We take the calls, you get the clients.”  & “What do you do with the calls you can’t handle?” (August 2019); “If You Need Business, We Need You!” (October 2019); “Why did you become a lawyer?” (December 2019, February & April 2020); “Potential Clients are Looking for Virginia Lawyers” (April & June 2020); and the VLRS annual “Thank You” list of 2019 lawyer panel members (June 2020). The VLRS thanks the VSB Access to Legal Service Committee and Director Crista Gantz for interviewing VLRS’ panel member Barbara Hanna of Cowardin, Kim & Riddle, PLC, Newport News for the December 2019 Virginia Lawyer Pro Bono issue – “Unsung Heroes: Closing the Justice Gap in Everyday Practice.” 

The VLRS continues to utilize social media platforms of Facebook & Google ads to enhance the awareness of the consumer services provided by VLRS, and the VSB focus on the legal professional’s well-being with monthly postings that highlighted the different topics of: Employment/Labor Law (August & September 2019), Real Estate/Tenant Matters (October 2019), Disability Rights (November 2019), and Being Mindful of the well-being of the Legal Professional (April 2020) – that has resulted in reaching over 34,000 consumers and receiving over 650 “likes.”  

Special Matter Panels

Due to the legal challenges presented by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the citizens of Virginia, the VLRS issued a call to VSB members and the VLRS panel membership to assist callers with specified legal needs related to COVID-19 in collections, estate planning, healthcare, inmates early release, labor, landlord and tenant’s rights, and real estate matters. As a result of that call to action nine VSB members and forty-one (41) VLRS panel members signed-up to assist the citizens of Virginia with their concerns.  

Updated: Aug 25, 2020