Lawyer Referral

Jack L. Harris, Chair

The Virginia Lawyer Referral Service (VLRS), ‘Celebrating 40 Years’ of public service has received 12,675 calls from persons in need of assistance with possible legal matters in Virginia. Of those calls, the VLRS has provided 3,963 prescreened and prepaid referrals to its active panel members; resulting in $172,060.00 non-profited revenue for the bar.   

The Virginia State Bar (VSB) Special Committee on Lawyer Referral commends the 351 VLRS attorney panel members for their (past and present) service to the bar and their communities. The VLRS welcomed 65 first-time panel members. The Committee’s focus was to bring awareness of the VLRS to VSB members by promoting the value of its panel membership; and to the General Public by enhancing consumer protection when referring to private lawyers to ensure their legal needs were being met.  Those goals were met by: 

1.  American Bar Association (ABA) Program of Assistance and Review (PAR) of the VLRS on October 18, 2017.  The PAR review suggested the Committee make specified changes to the service for its continuing public service and panel membership support. 

2.  Rule revisions for the VLRS.

3. Strategic Plan created and implemented; along with establishing common goals with the VSB Access to Legal Services (Modest Means) and the Conference of Local and Specialty Bar Associations (CLSBA) to better fulfill the mission of the Bar. Committee members Jack Harris and Sarah Morton met with the Legal Aid Project Directors in Charlottesville on March 19, 2018 (in a joint effort) to better understand  the services that each program provides to the citizens of Virginia. 

4. Consumer and Panel Member surveys created and sent bi-monthly and every six-month (respectively) receiving valued feedback on the consumer and business services provided by the VLRS.  

5. Referral Requests by email implemented August 20, 2017. VLRS has received 322 referral requests and has answered and responded to those referral requests (within 48 business hours) by reply emails and/or calls.  

6. Online Pre-paid Referral System launched on March 19, 2018 to general public for 24/7 self-referrals.  The Online Prepaid Referral System has been utilized by 109 consumers.  

7. On-Site Panel Membership Promotions:  VSB TechShow in Richmond; Solo and Small-Firm Practitioner Forums in Big Stone Gap, Kilmarnock & Hampton-Sydney; the VSB Young Lawyer Conference (YLC) Admission & Orientation Ceremony in Richmond; and the VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach. 

8. Featured article in the VSB Virginia Lawyer Magazine June 2018 – “VLRS: We are Looking for the Next C. Butler Barrett”; and VSB News and Information articles to promote the new Online Referral System, the Referral Requests by Email, and ongoing panel membership recruitment of VSB members in underserved referring areas of Virginia.  Article for the Conference of Local and Specialty Bar Associations (CLSBA) The Connection Newsletter(Summer 2017) “The Virginia Lawyer Referral Service: Helping Others While Helping Your Practice” written by Special Committee on Lawyer Referral member D. David Parr, Jr.  

9. New panel membership application (with expanded areas of law practices) that required more detailed law office information to enhance the referral screening process for better consumer-to-lawyer matching.  New informational consumer Bookmarks developed in May 2018 for statewide distribution.  

10. Changes to the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service website to make it more consumers friendly and the panel membership information more visually appealing to its readers.

11. Assistance provided to the: VSB YLC Emergency Legal Service (ELS) responses to natural disaster Hurricanes Harvey & Irma; the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation (GRBA) & Virginia Bar Association (VBA) Veterans Initiative Program to provide legal referrals to persons affect by the hurricanes and Virginia veterans in needs of legal advice & services.  

The Special Committee on Lawyer Referral met on Tuesday, August 8, 2017; Monday, October 30, 2017; Thursday, January 4, 2018; Tuesday, February 20, 2018; and Friday, May 18, 2018. 

Committee Members

Eugene M. Elliott,  vice-chair;  Timothy A. Boyer,  Judy A. Dugger,  John A. Kassabian, Neil S. Lowenstein,  D. Adam McKelvey,  Sarah M. Morton, D. David Parr, Jr.,  Todd A. Pilot,  Jeanette D. Rogers, and Christopher L. Spinelli.

Updated: Sep 21, 2018