LRSLRIS STAFF TRAINING MANUAL
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LAWYER REFERRAL INFORMATION SERVICE THE RIGHT CALL FOR THE RIGHT LAWYER A STAFF TRAINING MANUAL TABLE OF CONTENTS I. INTRODUCTION ABA Standing Committee on LRS/LRIS ABA Standing Committee Purpose of LRS/LRIS ABA/PAR Statement of Purpose LRS/LRIS Statement of Purpose Purpose of the LRS/LRIS Training Manual II. General Information and Personnel Policy Information on Bar Sponsored Program LRS/LRIS Office Hours and Breaks Staff Descriptions and Functions General Statistics and Attorney Participation Role of the LRS/LRIS Committee Personnel Manual III. The Referral Process Fee Categories Guidelines for an Effective Referral The Mechanics of the Lawyer Referral Service Important Information to Remember When Speaking to Clients Confidentiality of Referrals IV. Subject Matter Panels V. Difficult or Frequently Asked Questions Effective LRS/LRIS Conversations Based on Sample Calls Anecdotes Client's Bill of Rights VI. Recommendations and Morale Builders Telephone Techniques & Etiquette Problem Callers Staff Training Programs VII. Bar Sponsored Public Service Programs (INSERT APPROPRIATE BAR RELATED INFORMATION ON PUBLIC SERVICE PROGRAMS) VIII. Appendix (to be added by individual programs) Brochures of Public Service Programs LRS/LRIS Application LRS/LRIS Flow Chart LRS/LRIS Referral Notice Sample LRS/LRIS Reminder Notice Sample LRS/LRIS Statistics LRS/LRIS Client Satisfaction Questionnaire LRS/LRIS Complaint Form Association Staff Directory I. INTRODUCTION ABA STANDING COMMITTEE ON LRS/LRIS The Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Services is the successor to the Special Committee on Legal Clinics created by the ABA in 1937. In 1940 the name was changed to the Special Committee on Legal Bureaus and again in 1941 to the Special Committee on Low Cost Legal Service Bureaus. In 1980 the House of Delegates approved the change of the Special Committee to its present form, the Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service (hereafter “The Committee”). The Committee was mandated to be a ten-person committee due to its extremely specialized nature. Since its inception in 1985, The Committee's premier project has been the Program of Assistance and Review (PAR). This project continues to receive acclaim from participating state and local bars. (See below description). The goal of the Standing Committee is to increase the number of clients served by public service lawyer referral programs, improve the quality of the service provided by these programs, and to protect consumers from entities promoting themselves as public service lawyer referral programs without the proper public service component. The Committee seeks to improve access to legal services, provide high quality materials and model standards to local programs, encourage implementation of quality standards, and help with the design and establishment of new programs when requested. The Committee maintains a clearinghouse of information and materials relating to the operation and development of LRISs and responds to ethics and policy questions from state and local lawyer referral directors and volunteers. The ABA staff fields an average of 30 informational requests on lawyer referral a month. The Committee also disseminates information through various publications including its participation in a quarterly newsletter, Dialogue. The newsletter informs the lawyer referral community of case law and issues affecting the delivery of legal services through Lawyer Referral and Information Services. Other publications include the Directory of Lawyer Referral Services and Characteristics of Lawyer Referral Programs. ABA STANDING COMMITTEE PURPOSE OF LRS/LRIS It is the view of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) that lawyer referral programs are primarily a public service. Lawyer referral services generally are intended to help match clients who need legal services and who are able to pay at least some attorneys’ fees, with lawyers interested in and equipped to handle their legal problems. The goal of any LRS/LRIS should be to refer members of the public to attorneys who are competent to handle their particular legal needs. Although lawyer referral services provide a benefit to attorney members, their primary purpose is public service. Without lawyer referral, thousands of people would be without an agency to turn to for legal assistance. Lawyers, already perceived as expensive and inaccessible, would be even further removed from the public they are supposed to serve. The lawyer referral service reaches out to bridge the gap between attorneys and the public. By providing a valued service, the bar enhances its image as a public spirited organization, concerned about the community in which it exists. At the same time, however, the lawyer referral program should view itself as being in "the business of public service." A well run lawyer referral service which utilizes an effective publicity campaign targeting middle income legal consumers, and others with fee generating matters, benefits panel members as well as the public. A lawyer referral service can generate income, and in some cases, become a self-supporting program. Members of the public call the LRS/LRIS with the expectation of a referral to a competent lawyer who practices in their area of need. To maintain this very important public service, the lawyer referral program needs to have a panel of adequate size, and varied enough in geographic dispersion and areas of practice, to accommodate the needs of callers. ABA PROGRAM OF ASSISTANCE AND REVIEW (PAR) The ABA Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service offers the Program of Assistance and Review (PAR) to assist state and local lawyer referral programs by observing their operations and suggesting ways to make them more effective and fiscally stable. PAR is designed to help lawyer referral programs improve management and operations by providing the advice of a team of experts; offering support through telephone consultations and on-site visits; and, providing information about innovative procedures and services which have been successful around the country. PAR consultants are experienced in lawyer referral program operations. All are lawyers or professional staff from lawyer referral programs throughout the country. They are well-versed in the many issues facing lawyer referral programs, large and small, and are ready to apply that knowledge and expertise to individual circumstances. PAR assistance visits are often arranged at no cost to not-for-profit lawyer referral programs. LRS/LRIS STATEMENT OF PURPOSE Lawyer Referral Programs are a public service designed to: provide a way in which any person may be referred to a lawyer who is able to render and interested in rendering needed legal services; provide information about lawyers and the availability of legal services which will aid in the selection of a lawyer; inform the public when and where to seek legal services; provide general and legal information needed by the public; and direct the client to community or governmental agencies when appropriate. As a result of an effective LRS/LRIS program, participating attorneys will gain new clients and furnish a worthwhile public service. PURPOSE OF THE LRS/LRIS TRAINING MANUAL The purpose of this manual is to introduce the operation of the LRS/LRIS and to create an atmosphere conducive to learning. All LRS/LRIS staff are encouraged to thoroughly read the instructions, learn through experimentation and through asking questions. All questions are important to an understanding of the program and to the growth of the LRS/LRIS. 1[This manual does not replace or duplicate the personnel manual. It is important for all new staff to review the personnel manual and any other pertinent related information] [before reviewing the LRS/LRIS Training Manual.] [This is to ensure your understanding of the [association's] [company’s] infrastructure before learning about the LRS/LRIS program.] II. GENERAL INFORMATION AND PERSONNEL POLICY INFORMATION ON BAR SPONSORED PROGRAMS The LRS/LRIS staff members work closely with one another. This requires frequent staff interaction, tolerance and close cooperation. A spirit of information-sharing and problem-solving on calls should always prevail. Efficient use of your time in handling incoming calls and performing your other duties will favorably affect the entire LRS/LRIS team. A cooperative effort is essential. LRS/LRIS OFFICE HOURS AND BREAKS The LRS/LRIS office is open [ ]. Since the phones have to be answered at [9:00 a.m.], promptness is essential. [Each person working a full day shift is allowed a one hour lunch break. This should be taken between 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m.] (This may change from time to time due to staff vacations, sick time, etc.) Lunch break times should be arranged with the [Administrative Coordinator or the Director]. In no instances, should the phones be left unattended without notifying the Director. STAFF DESCRIPTIONS AND FUNCTIONS Each year the LRS/LRIS is responsible for making [ ]referrals to its [ ] participating attorneys. Each participating attorney is licensed and eligible to practice law in this state and carries the required amount of professional liability insurance. If there is a question regarding an attorney's eligibility or ability to represent LRS/LRIS clients, the [Director] will present the situation to the LRS/LRIS Committee. If you receive a call from a client that has a complaint about an attorney referral, the call should be forwarded immediately to [the Director]. The LRS/LRIS will follow up on such a matter and will pursue any action necessary if it is determined to be a justifiable complaint. Often the problem is minor and can be resolved with a call to the attorney from [the Director, the Chair of the Committee]. The LRS/LRIS receives an average of [ ] calls per day. Of these, approximately [1/3] are referred to attorneys. These numbers indicate that many callers either do not want or need the services of an attorney. As a public service program, it is also the job of the LRS/LRIS staff members to help callers in need of legal aid or general legal information. Each Information & Referral Specialist should be familiar with the agencies throughout the area served and be able to use directories to find the resources best suited to the diverse needs of LRS/LRIS callers. LRS/LRIS panel attorneys handle a wide variety of legal matters. While the LRS/LRIS will make referrals for corporate law, administrative law, entertainment law, and in numerous other areas, the majority of referrals fall into the following categories: family law, employment law, wills, trusts and estates, real estate and personal injury. LRS Information & Referral Specialist should be aware that the frequency of certain types of calls may make one inclined to classify cases as “typical.” Referral Assistants should avoid such inclinations and make certain to clearly articulate the appropriate questions in order to make the effective and appropriate referrals. GENERAL STATISTICS AND ATTORNEY PARTICIPATION (Insert appropriate information from your referral program.) ROLE OF THE LRS/LRIS COMMITTEE [PLEASE NOTE: The following information should be adapted to conform with the structure of your Association.] The LRS/LRIS Committee is charged with the supervision of the LRS/LRIS [as stated in the LRS/LRIS Statement of Standards and Rules]. The committee is a [standing] committee [of the association] [and its members are appointed by the President]. [The committee is subject at all times to the supervision of the Association's [Board of Delegates] and shall report at least annually to the [Board of Delegates.] The committee operates pursuant to the specifications outlined in the Association's Bylaws.] The committee meets at regular intervals during the year to review overall policy matters and areas of LRS/LRIS development as well as to formulate and adopt all rules for the conduct and the operation of the LRS/LRIS. An important function of the committee is to vote on the LRS/LRIS eligibility of attorneys [who have received disciplinary action]. [PERSONNEL MANUAL (INSERT ASSOCIATION'S PERSONNEL MANUAL)] III. THE REFERRAL PROCESS FEE CATEGORIES There are three different types of fee categories when making a referral: egular fee referrals are made unless it is clear that the client cannot afford to hire an attorney, or the LRS/LRIS has an alternative fee program for which the client is eligible. Attorneys on the service have agreed to charge no more than [$ ] for the initial one half hour consultation. During the initial consultation, the client should discuss fees with the attorney and should request a written fee agreement. If the initial consultation exceeds one half hour, attorneys may base additional charges on their regular hourly rate, provided that they have informed the client what the charges will be. Reduced fee modest means referrals are provided for clients who cannot afford regular fee referral and meet the Reduced Fee/Modest Means Guidelines. [The guidelines are updated on an annual basis by the Director of the program.] The Reduced Fee/Modest Means Panel provides the public with access to LRS/LRIS attorneys who are responsive to a client's income. Approximately [$ ] attorneys are on the LRS/LRIS Reduced Fee Modest Means Panel. Attorney participants on the panel have agreed to charge [no more than for the first half hour consultation visit and a fee that does not exceed [$ ] per hour]. It is expected that the attorney will base the fee on the client's ability to pay. The caller should be informed that the referred reduced fee/modest means attorney will do a further review of the caller's income eligibility. All attorneys participating in the reduced fee panel will be furnished with a financial statement form to assist them in determining the client's financial statement form to assist them in determining the client's financial status. The attorney's evaluation of a client's assets should include not only wages, but also the payment or receipt of any support and amounts readily available money or securities. Ownership of assets such as real estate or other equity interests will NOT be disqualifying but may be used as an indicator of ability to pay a regular fee. Asset limitations for individuals over 60 or individuals with disabilities should be more flexible. The attorney will not be required to charge a reduced fee if this inquiry reveals that a client is, in fact, ineligible for reduced fee/modest means services. If a matter is subject to a contingent fee agreement, it will be treated as a regular fee referral. Income producing cases are almost always referred on a regular fee basis. Pro Bono referrals: (insert appropriate bar related information) GUIDELINES FOR MAKING AN EFFECTIVE REFERRAL 1) Try to answer the telephone as quickly as possible and say, "Lawyer Referral Service, How may I help you?" 2) Determine the nature of the caller's problem. Try to relate the caller's problem to a listed topical category. Ask pertinent questions to determine if the services of an attorney are necessary. Concrete questions should be asked. 3) When you have enough information, tell the caller that you have enough information and he/she should write down a summary of the important facts to tell the lawyer. Certain key points should be remembered while dealing with callers, such as: All LRS/LRIS callers do not always require the services of an attorney. If the caller is not being referred to a lawyer, the staff member should consider referring him/her to an appropriate resource that is listed in the available resource directories. Each staff member should be familiar with the various resource directories and the services provided by the entities listed within them. If a caller needs only "information," or is attempting to learn possible rights or remedies for a hypothetical situation or possible future problem, the caller may be referred to Tel-Law, be sent appropriate pamphlets on legal topics, or referred to an entity that would have the information the caller is seeking. [See the Tel-Law brochure in the appendix. Any information on Tel-Law and other resources should be carefully reviewed by all staff persons.] If a caller already has retained an attorney, the supervisor or Director may want to ask the caller why he/she is seeking another referral. Many services are understandably hesitant to refer clients who are already represented. However, a rule forbidding any such referrals or requiring the client to first discharge the original attorney may be too rigid. A new lawyer may be necessary to remove the first attorney from a court case or when the caller feels his/her attorney is being grossly negligent in performing his/her duties. The original attorney may become sick, lose interest in the case, not have the resources to adequately handle it, or may be acting contrary to the desires of the client. Unless the client knows that there is a new attorney willing to take on the case, the client may be left with no representation if forced to discharge the original attorney before a new one is found. Also, depending on how much time has gone by and the quality of the original attorney’s work, new attorneys may be reluctant to inherit problems caused by the original lawyer. In answer to a request for a second opinion, it is usual to make a referral when a formal case has not yet started and no lawyer has actually been retained. Many lawyers have different opinions on the value and viability of particular matters. However, if the case is two years old, a new lawyer is often unable or unwilling to give a meaningful opinion as to value because the new lawyer will have only very limited access to the facts and little or no ability to evaluate the effect of discovery and investigation that the client may not be completely aware of. If you have a question regarding the propriety of referring such a client, speak with [a supervisor][the Director][the Committee Chair]. The client should be aware that the prior attorney, once dismissed may be entitled to a fair and reasonable fee or have a lien on any recovery that may make it harder to find a new lawyer. Also, for other than contingency matters, there may be additional costs incurred for the time a new lawyer spends becoming familiar with the case. The caller may dismiss an attorney by sending a registered letter, return receipt requested. Let the caller know that it is ultimately their decision whether or not the attorney continues to work for them and urge them to discuss any matter of concern with their attorney. Sometimes these complaints involve LRS/LRIS referred cases. If so, please refer it to the Director as a complaint. Once it is determined that an attorney referral should be made, ask for the caller’s name and address [and telephone number.] If the caller is reluctant to give his/her name, explain that all information is confidential and that the name is used to provide additional protection to the client. By having the proper identifying information, the client is entitled to arbitration or mediation of any fee dispute, certain legal malpractice insurance only applies to matters referred by the service and properly recorded. The address and phone number will not given to the attorney. The name and address will also be kept on file and will be used only to verify a referral and with the client’s permission, to send the client a letter asking whether the client was satisfied with the lawyer and the service. If the caller still refuses tell the caller they can call back after thinking it over. [No referral should be made without a minimum of first initial, last name, street name, city and state.] If you have acquired the essential information and you discover that the client cannot afford attorneys’ fees, [you must] see if the client is eligible for a reduced fee/modest means referral or pro bono referral. Each LRS/LRIS staff member should be familiar with the requirements for such a referral as well as the attorneys' fees. This is best accomplished by reviewing the section in this manual entitled, "Fee Categories." Referrals are generally made based on the caller's city, county or zip code. The staff member should make every effort to make a referral if the caller needs an attorney. There will be times the staff member will have to go through all several types of searches before finding an appropriate attorney. Keeping time efficiency in mind, the staff member should not hesitate to make several search attempts. Generally, reduced fee searches should include a broad geographic area while most other searches should be limited to a smaller area. However, legal malpractice cases are often best referred to an attorney in another county. (For information regarding subject matter panels, please refer to III. Titled Subject Matter Panels.) If the caller needs an attorney who practices in another state, refer to the national directory produced by the American Bar Association which has an alphabetical listing of all the states and LRS/LRIS programs in each respective state. If the caller needs an attorney who practices both in this state and in another state, the staff member should search for an attorney who can practice in both states. However, the staff member should keep in mind type of matter the caller. If it is litigation, a lawyer licensed in both states may not be helpful unless the lawyer actually has an office in the state where the accident happened and the evidence is located. The procedure is similar for the callers who need attorneys who speak other languages or practice in other jurisdictions. You may occasionally feel a sense of "burn-out." Be aware of your voice tone and level of tolerance. Don't let callers get the best of you. It is better to end a call graciously by saying, "I'm sorry but I can't help you any longer and there are several calls on hold that I may be able to help -- goodbye;" or “I’m sorry but I can’t help you with this, I’ll have a supervisor call you back,” or “The issues you are describing are too complicated for me to understand in a phone call, please summarize them in writing and mail or fax them in to us;” than to continue in an unproductive conversation. If you find yourself "burned-out," discuss the situation with your supervisor. TAKE A BREAK!!!! If the "burn-out" continues, please bring it to the attention of the Director. DON'T GIVE OUT LEGAL ADVICE. This is an extremely important guideline to keep in mind while speaking to callers. Remember, you don't know all the facts and elements of the case. You will generally be limited to a five or six minute telephone conversation during which you should be careful not to advise legal action or make definitive decisions on the merits of a legal case. If you are not a practicing attorney, you could very well do more damage by going too far. If the caller asks for a legal opinion, tell the caller that you are not an attorney. Even if you are a lawyer, unless you are part of a legal advice hotline you should tell the caller that you can only give basic information but cannot represent the caller or advise the caller what action to take. This does not mean that you should refer every caller to a lawyer. If it is clear that the case is too old, or too small or that the caller cannot be helped by a lawyer on your panel you can inform the caller that you have been told not to refer this type of matter. Unless you exercise some discretion in deciding what matters to refer, your service may have trouble keeping good lawyers on your panels. DON'T PLAY COUNSELOR OR SOCIAL WORKER. Inform callers about the options available but let them make their own decisions about contacting an agency or an attorney. It is essential that the LRS staff stand by its policy and not give legal advice unless it has a brief legal advice component. Also, remember that you are not a suicide hotline or a family counseling center. If you are aware of a service that gives advice, such as a legal advice hotline, suicide prevention hotline, clinical or social service program, you may refer the caller to that program. Since most people can afford [$ ] for an initial consultation, our service is a way to assist them in getting the questions answers. In some services specific questions can be faxed in and given to panel members to provide the information requested. If you know what legal information applies to a particular situation (e.g. residency requirements or other procedural information), you may provide the caller with it. The distinction between legal advice and legal information is often difficult to determine, when in doubt consult your supervisor or Director. Staff can provide information about options to legal services in certain instances, such as providing the telephone numbers for court offices and sending callers brochures on various legal topics without giving legal advice. This is part of the “information” component of your service and is a true benefit to the public. It is also one of the reasons clients contact a LRIS as opposed to calling a lawyer directly. The LRIS is in a position to help see that the caller finds the appropriate resource. Providing this service for the potential legal consumer is simply “good business.” WALK-INS. Walk-ins account for a small percentage of the referrals handled by the LRS/LRIS. Although walk-in clients are theoretically the same as phone-in referrals, there are some differences that should be addressed. Often walk-in clients are confused or have tried numerous agencies in search of an answer to a problem that they may or may not fully understand. It is important that you stay objective. Do not be swayed by a heart-wrenching story that really has no basis for a legal remedy. Be compassionate and try to learn as much information as is necessary to make an appropriate referral. If an agency seems appropriate then make the referral, but do not simply pass the buck. It is better to be up-front with the client by stating that you don’t know of any services for them, than to pass them off to another agency that is not set up to help them. Staff members tend to spend more time with walk-ins than with phone referrals. Although this is understandable, it should be avoided whenever possible. Be as concise as you would with a phone referral and remember that we do not hold confidential interviews. Many people come to the bar association expecting to be advised by an attorney. Be sure that they understand that this is not the function of the referral service and that you are limited to referring a lawyer, agency, or providing pamphlets or very basic information. If you decide that it is appropriate to make a referral, follow the regular procedure you would with any phone referral. After making the referral, each staff member should write down the attorney's name and address on an LRS/LRIS brochure. (Make sure that you write the information on the brochure so that the client can read about the entire program). Be clear that the same results will be achieved by calling as would be by coming in person. Some referral programs do not allow walk-ins due to security concerns. THE MECHANICS OF THE LAWYER REFERRAL SERVICE The Lawyer Referral Service uses [computer software][card files] to select an appropriate attorney for each client. [The program will] [The procedure is to] ask questions prompting for the appropriate information in order to make the referral. Be sure the information is correct since it forms a permanent record of the referral [in the computer system]. Mistakes will hinder future efforts of tracking the case. The ability to follow the case and develop statistics is extremely important whether a fee remittance is involved or not. It is also important to keep the information correct to monitor productivity, trends and complaints and to identify problem clients. The proper procedure will keep track of who made each referral by recording the staff members initials [and private access code] with the referral and what the results were (consult only, no show, retained matter). After you acquire all the essential information from the caller, [i.e., name, address, zip code, phone number, income eligibility] you should begin the search for an appropriate attorney. An important aspect of the LRS/LRIS is the rotation of lawyers. [There is a rotation software program][Procedures have been developed] that insure(s) fairness in all of the referrals.] Do not make judgment calls on an attorney. The attorney who meets the caller's specifications and is next on the list will appear on the screen and that is the name that should be given to the caller. You may not discriminate based on sex, age, religion, race or national origin when making a referral. You should refer the first attorney that the computer determines is suitable to handle the legal matter based on case type, geographic location and or any language or reduced fee requirement. (For information regarding subject matter panels, please refer to III. Tilted Subject Matter Panels). You must refer a client to only one attorney at a time. If a client calls back with a valid reason as to why the referred attorney was unable or unwilling to consider the case, then you can refer the caller to another attorney. If it becomes obvious the client wishes to receive the names of several attorneys by incessantly calling back, then you must refuse to make any more referrals. If there have been several referrals for a particular matter, you may want to consult your supervisor or the Director before making any further referrals. LRS/LRIS does not accept collect calls, [except when the caller is incarcerated and unable to make toll or Watts calls]. IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO REMEMBER WHEN SPEAKING TO CLIENTS DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. If you are unsure about the caller's question and/or dilemma, ask other staff members to assist you. [The Director's office is just a few feet away so don't be shy]. Also, you should be aware of the responsibilities of everyone within you department and the [bar association][sponsoring organization] so that you will know who to ask what question. COURTESY IS A MUST. Remember, you are representing the [bar association][referral service] and the legal profession when you answer each and every call. Always be professional even when the caller is abusive. LISTEN CAREFULLY TO EACH CALLER. What specifically is the legal problem? Are there other aspects of this case that require either entering more than one case code or making other agency referrals? Don't let the caller question your competence. Take control of the situation by asking positive questions in a polite and assertive manner. TRY NOT TO TALK TOO LONG. Remember that most everyone who calls the LRS/LRIS is experiencing a real problem. Therefore we should do our best to deal with the callers with utmost professionalism and to the best of our ability. However, you still should be aware of the time constraints. If you talk too long to one client, you may lose two others who are waiting on hold. Although you should not rush through calls and risk misunderstanding the callers needs, you should always be conscious of the calls that are on hold. Remember the limitations of the LRS/LRIS and if necessary inform the caller of these limitations. We are a referral service, not a legal aid or crisis hotline. When you have enough information to make a referral, tell that you will give him/her the name of a lawyer or agency to call and that further information should be given to the attorney or agency. DO NOT GIVE PERSONAL RECOMMENDATIONS. Only make referrals utilizing the LRS/LRIS [computer process] [procedures]. Do not give the callers the impression that you are personally recommending a particular attorney. Do not give your opinion regarding any of the member's performance and/or representation. For example, you should never say, "this guy's really nice, I just spoke with him yesterday. He'll do a great job for you." DON'T PLAY LAWYER. The problem of knowing which questions you should try to answer and which ones you should not, requires good judgment. If you have any questions as to whether or not you are giving the proper information, don't hesitate to put the caller on hold and ask other staff members or consult with the Director. You should remember that there is great danger of seriously misleading someone with incomplete or partially accurate information especially when you don't know all the facts surrounding the caller's situation. Ask appropriate questions and get concrete information. If the facts clearly do not present a legal problem and it is not appropriate for a referral, tell the client why. If they insist they want a referral, refer them to the yellow page portion of their local telephone book. KNOW WHICH CALLS ARE TOO DIFFICULT FOR YOU. Suicidal callers, callers experiencing physical harm due to abuse or callers with mental disabilities are usually difficult to handle. If you are not experienced in handling such situations and there is danger present, immediately notify your supervisor or the Director. They have more experience assisting people in immediate danger. Mentally ill callers are often manipulative and angry. If you cannot handle the caller, ask the Director to answer the call. If the caller is abusive to you or uses inappropriate language you may terminate the call. Inform them of your intentions to terminate the call before hanging up. Be sure to inform the Director of such a call. Don’t be afraid to tell a caller that you do not know the answer to the caller’s question. CONFIDENTIALITY OF REFERRALS Many referral services take the position that, for confidentiality purposes, the service is an extension of its attorney members. Information & Referral Specialists would thus be included within the attorney client privilege. All referral service employers should be aware that information regarding callers, their legal problems or the fact that they have sought the employment of a lawyer must be held in the strictest confidence. Whether the referral service considers itself an extension of its attorney members, equivalent to the intake office of a legal aid or legal services organization, or just a screening mechanism to refer suitable clients to lawyers, all communications from callers should be considered confidential. Any attempt to discover this information by an outside person or agency should be contested with all means at the service's disposal. Client names and case information should not be discussed outside of the office, or with non-LRS personnel. IV. SUBJECT MATTER PANELS In order to warrant consumer reliance on the unbiased, objective help the LRS/LRIS, the service should provide something the legal consumer cannot obtain by simply picking a name out of the yellow pages. The ABA believes that sponsorship implies to the legal consumer that the attorneys participating in the service and the services provided have the tacit, if not explicit, approval of the sponsored bar. In that sense, the reputation of the bar is on the line with each referral that is made. The goal of the referral service should be to improve the quality of the service it provides to the point where local attorneys, committee members and legal consumers who use the service feel confident in recommending it to their friends and neighbors. The ABA believes that an important step to reaching this goal is the implementation of subject matter panels. A subject matter panel is established by setting certain objective experience requirements in particular fields of law as a prerequisite to panel membership. The establishment of subject matter panel requirements should not be confused with a program of legal specialization. The goal of subject matter panels is simple: the referral to a lawyer who has demonstrated specific experience and objective knowledge in the area of law required for that referral. The amount of good will, free “word of mouth” advertising and repeat business from clients who have been referred to a lawyer who has experience in the area in which they need legal assistance cannot be overestimated. Also, panel members who have had meet relevant experience standards and have confidence in the referral service will be a source of new business. When a caller learns that the attorney he/she has been referred to has no or very little experience in the type of case for which the lawyer was suggested, it inevitably leads to public dissatisfaction regarding the LRS/LRIS. The ABA therefore believes that self- selection whereby a lawyer selects the area of law for which he/she wants to be listed, without meeting any objective experience criteria, is an inappropriate method for determining membership on a subject matter panel. A service that uses self-selection should at least limit the number of panels that an attorney may self-select. At a minimum each attorney should be required to sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury that they are competent to handle cases in the areas selected or perhaps require proof of attendance from recent CLE programs in the subject area. While there has not been substantial litigation over negligent referrals, a service that makes no effort to objectively determine whether an attorney to whom they are making a referral is competent to handle the referral is leaving itself wide open for a claim of negligent referral. This is particularly true in today’s climate where many services screen their lawyers and where the ABA has determined as a matter of policy that LRS/LRIS programs should establish subject matter panels. V. DIFFICULT OR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS EFFECTIVE LRS/LRIS CONVERSATIONS BASED ON SAMPLE CALLS The following cases are examples of "typical” calls that are received on the LRS/LRIS telephone lines. These hypothetical calls outline appropriate responses to certain questions asked by the callers, how to acquire additional information from "hard to handle" callers and general information that must be given to the caller. Although all cases are unique, these are meant to assist you in understanding the most diplomatic ways to handle common and sometimes difficult situations. CASE I: Low Income Divorce (If the LRS/LRIS does not offer pro bono services directly, but the bar association or other entities are available to accept such cases.) Staff: Lawyer Referral Service, how may I help you? Caller: I was referred to you by my local legal service agency. I want a divorce and I can't afford an attorney. Staff: Where do you live? Caller: I live in _________________. Staff: What is your gross income & your spouse’s gross income before taxes are taken out? (If gross income is within range of regular referrals, make the referral to your regular fee panel. If spouse’s income is within range that court may order spouse to pay legal fees and you have a panel of lawyers willing to accept such cases on that basis, make the referral. Caller: I'm on welfare and my wife has no income. Staff: Have you contacted any free legal service agency? Caller: I called _________. They are not taking any new cases. Staff: There is another free legal service which covers your area, please contact them to see if they will help you. Their number is: ___________________. Try that number and see if they are able to offer you some assistance. They do handle divorce. Caller: There's so much red tape, can't you just give me a free attorney now? Staff: I'm sorry but the LRS/LRIS does not offer free legal representation. Caller: Okay, I'll try this number. Staff: Good luck, good bye. ========================================= CASE II: Determining what type of lawyer caller needs Caller: I need a lawyer. Staff: Please tell me briefly why you think you need an attorney. Caller: I had a car accident and I’m having difficulty collecting from my insurance company. Staff: Who’s working on the case? A lawyer or an insurance agent? Caller: No one. Staff: Where would you like the attorney to be located? Caller: I don’t care, just give me the best attorney you have. Staff: We don’t rate our attorneys, we base our referrals on case type and requested geographical location. Caller: If you don’t rate your attorneys, how are you any better than my local yellow page book? Staff: (Here is where you can tell the client what your requirements for panel membership and for this panel are. It is clearly an advantage if you can say that the lawyer had to meet objective experience criteria and some formal approval process. Otherwise, you can relate the liability insurance requirement, fee mediation/arbitration, and any other factors that do in fact distinguish your lawyers from general yellow page ads. Caller: I see, I live in ( ), but I work in ( ). I would rather an attorney in the ( ) area. Staff: Fine, may I have your name and address? Caller: OK, my name is _______________. My address is _____________. Do you need my telephone number? Staff: No, that’s not necessary. Staff: The name of the attorney is __________. His/her address is __________. When you contact the attorney to arrange for an appointment be sure to tell him/her that you were referred to by the LRS/LRIS of the our bar association. The attorney will not charge you more than _____ for the first one half hour consultation visit. After that you should discuss further fees with the attorney. * * * CASE III: Callers who want numerous referrals Staff: LRS/LRIS, may I help you? Caller: I would like a list of divorce attorneys in the ___________ area. Staff: Do you have an attorney now? Caller: No. Staff: I can refer you to an attorney in the __________ area who handles divorce cases but I can only give you one referral at a time. We do not provide lists of attorneys. Caller: Oh, can’t you give me more than one? Staff: No, LRS/LRIS policy only allows me to give one name at a time. If the attorney does not work out or cannot take the case than you can call back for another name, but you must, first, contact the attorney I give you now. Caller: OK-if you can only give me one name than who is it? Staff: First, I’ll need your name and address. Caller: My name is ___________. My Address is ________________. Staff: I can refer you to an attorney whose initial consultation fee will be no more than $_____ but if you go beyond that you should discuss further fees with the attorney. Caller: OK, I’ll take the attorney’s name. Staff: The attorney’s name is __________. Her address is ___________. Caller: Thank You. Staff: Your welcome and good luck. CASE IV: Reduced Fee/Modest Means Referral (If your bar does not offer pro bono services) Staff: LRS/LRIS, can I help you? Caller: Yes, I would like to speak to an attorney. Staff: [We don’t have any attorneys in the office.] If you briefly explain your problem, I can try to find an attorney in your geographical area who deals with your type of case. Caller: But I want a free attorney. Staff: We don’t offer free services at the LRS/LRIS. Let me see if you are income eligible for a reduced fee/modest means referral. What is your gross income? [Most reduced fee programs are limited to particular areas of law, so before asking information about income, find out whether the problem is an appropriate area of law.} Caller: I gross $______ a week. Staff: Are you supporting anyone else? Caller: No. Staff: You do qualify for a reduced fee/modest means referral. Caller: OK, What does that mean? Staff: After I give you the attorney’s name, you can call and make an appointment. Tell the attorney that you were referred by the bar association as a reduced fee/modest means referral. The attorney will charge you no more than $______ for the first half hour consultation visit and no more than $______ dollars an hour if you qualify after filing out a financial statement. Caller: Can you guarantee that the attorney will accept the case? Staff: No, the decision to accept the case is ultimately up to the attorney. However, if the attorney is unable to take the case you are welcome to call back. Likewise, you are not obligated to hire the attorney. May I have your name and address? ANECDOTES The following examples are meant to demonstrate the function of case categorization. The first step is to determine the general “type” of law the caller’s problem should fall under based on the areas of law as outlined under the Categories and Definitions section of this training manual. It is imperative that the staff is familiar with this information in order to make an appropriate referral. “I’m not receiving proper SSI benefits, and need help cutting through the red tape.” Course of Action: If you have lawyers listed for SSI, you can make the referral, check with your Social Security lawyers as to whether attorney’s fees are normally awarded for this in your jurisdiction. If no fees are generally awarded and the client cannot hire a lawyer, refer the client to their local legal service agency. “I was injured while working on a ship and have not been successful in collecting my medical expenses.” Course of Action: Refer the caller to an attorney who is familiar with Admiralty Law/Personal Injury. “I have many personal debts which I can’t pay and what to know how to file bankruptcy and how it will effect me in the future.” Course of Action: Suggest that the client contact their local Consumer Credit Counseling Service if the client wishes to receive financial counseling. You may want to refer the caller to the Bankruptcy Court for basic procedural information. However, if the caller can afford an attorney referral and wants to be referred to an attorney, refer the caller to an attorney experienced in Personal Bankruptcy. “I have a contract with a painter to paint my house. The painter did half the job and has not shown up for a week and also does not answer his phone. I’ve already paid him in fall and want to known what sort of action I can take to get him either to finish the job or to get some of the money back.” Course of Action: You should ascertain whether or not Small Claims Court is appropriate. If the case involves more than the Small Claims Court limitation, then refer the caller to an attorney who deals with both contract litigation and consumer protection. “A man bought a car from me a year ago, and was supposed to pay me over a twelve month period. He paid for the first six months but now says he does not have the money to pay me anymore. Do I have any recourse? Course of Action: If the claim is over the Small Claims limitation, then an LRS referral is most appropriate under collections. “I plan to open a retail store in this city, and would like an attorney to draw up incorporation papers for me.” Course of Action: Refer the caller to an attorney who handles for profit incorporation for businesses. “I was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and need an attorney to represent me.” Course of Action: Refer the client to an attorney who handles Driving Under the Influence, or Driving While Intoxicated. If you do not have a subcategory for that, the caller may be referred to a lawyer who handles criminal cases. If ability to pay a lawyer appears to be a problem, the staff a member may want to ask basic income questions and whether the caller has requested a court appointed attorney. “My child has a learning disability, and the city in which I live cannot properly educate him and refuses to pay for him to attend private special education schools. What steps should I take?” Course of Action: The caller needs an attorney that is experienced in Education Law. “My wife and I are separated and she will not let me see my son. What are my rights as a father?” Course of Action: Inform the caller about the agencies in his area that deal with family issues, especially those which deal with fathers’ rights. Also, if the client requests a referral, refer him to an attorney that is familiar with family law/support and custody matters. “I am here on a student visa and I would like to move here permanently. How do I go about doing this?” Course of Action: The caller should be referred to an attorney who handles Immigration Law. “I was fired for no reason. What can I do about it?” Course of Action: As the caller if he/she feels discrimination was involved and if so what type. Also determine if the caller was in a union or a government employee. In each of these cases, the caller should be advised to first attempt to seek a remedy by going to appropriate authorities. If the caller is a private, non-unionized employee then a employment termination attorney should be referred. “I have a tenant who has not paid rent in four months, how can I evict him?” Course of Action: Ask specifics about the case and refer the client to a Landlord/Tenant Law attorney who represents landlords. “I invented a new kind of electronic devise, it’s top secret, and I would like to talk to my attorney about getting some protection for it.” Course of Action: If the caller would like to be referred to an attorney, you should refer him/her to an attorney that handles patent matters. “I would like to write a will, I’m ninety five years old.” Course of Action: See if there are any agencies in the caller’s area who draft wills for elderly people at no charge. However, if the caller indicates that she/he has substantial assets or is worried about issues related to nursing homes, or if the caller is looking for a private attorney, refer the caller to a lawyer experienced in Elderlaw or wills, trusts & estates. “My wife and I are purchasing our first home, we need an attorney to help us with the purchase and sale agreement.” Course of Action: Refer the caller to a residential Real Estate Law attorney. “I want to start a business and I want to be advised regarding the tax ramifications of starting a partnership versus a small corporation.” Course of Action: Refer the client to an attorney that handles both Business Law and Tax Law. “I need an attorney can help me sue my doctor. He put a cast on my leg after an accident I had and I am still suffering after three years.” Course of Action: Refer the client to a medical malpractice attorney. “I had a contract to play with a band for three performances. They called and canceled the contract the night before the first engagement. Do I have any recourse?” Course of Action: Find out whether the amount of the contract is within the small claims limit. If not, refer the client to an Entertainment Law attorney who also deals with contract litigation. “I want to take someone to Small Claims Court, can you give me an attorney’s name?” Course of Action: Tell the caller an attorney is not necessary for Small Claims Court. Give the caller the number of the Small Claims Advisory Board for procedural information. “I think the CIA is working together with my wife, my employer and my kids to get me deported to a deserted island. I’m a born and raised American citizen. They think my presence here is going to upset the entire American economy because I bake the best cookies in the world and I may monopolize the cookie market. I have proof, I found an airline ticket to a place I never heard of on the dresser. What should I do?” Course of Action: Staff members will get calls like this. Often the caller is confused or maybe even be mentally ill. Be sure to treat such callers with the same respect you would another caller. If the caller’s fear is this specific, you can tell him/her that citizens who were born in this country cannot be deported. If the caller’s story is clearly crazy and there is no legal basis, do not make a referral. Otherwise you will have angry panel members who withdraw from your panels. However, remember that crazy people can have good cases. Try to listen and develop an ear for reality and whether anything can be done. In some cases, conferencing the call with a supervisor, or even with a panel member before making a referral is helpful. If someone says that their therapist told them to call and the story still sounds too crazy, you can ask for the therapist to call and help you understand how a lawyer will be helpful. AN EXAMPLE OF A CLIENT’S BILL OF RIGHTS VI RECOMMENDATIONS AND MORALE BUILDERS TELEPHONE TECHNIQUES & ETIQUETTE Answering Calls for Others: 1. Never let a telephone ring unanswered. Do not let it ring more than three times. 2. Identify the location the caller has reached and identify yourself. First name only for LRS: “Lawyer Referral, this is Grace” 3. If the call is for someone else who is not available, discreetly explain that the person they are calling is unavailable. If you can, indicate the appropriate time of their return: Do Not Say: “She’s still taking a break,” or “I don’t think he’s come in yet.” Say “Nancy is not at her desk, I expect her back ____ I will tell her you called.” 4. Offer Assistance: Volunteer Help: “How may I help You” or “May I help you?” Offer to Refer the Call to Someone Else: “If you’d like I’ll see if Alice, our in-take specialist, is available to help you.” Offer to Take a Message for a Callback: “May I take your name and number so that Nancy can return your call?” Placing Calls on Hold: 1. Ask if the caller would mind being place on hold. Most people will not mind. 2. Be truthful. Let the caller know exactly what you will be doing while he/she is on hold. Let the caller know how much time you think it will take. 3. Check back with the caller every 20-30 seconds. This will assure them that you have not forgotten them. 4. If the caller is unable to hold, ask to take a message and have the call returned later. 5. Apologize for delays of more than 20-30 seconds. 6. Thank the caller for holding. Transferring Calls: 1. Advise the caller that you will transfer their call. 2. Tell the caller the name of the person or department to which he/she will be connected. 3. Transfer, and when possible, wait to ensure the connection is place to the proper person. Handling Angry Calls: 1. Allow clients to vent their feelings. 2. Use listening responses: “Yes ... I understand ... uh-huh” 3. Listen for feelings as well as facts. 4. Express regret for the caller’s feelings or the situation. 5. Ask open-ended, fact-finding questions. 6. Either handle or refer (transfer) the call. 7. If you handle the call, allow the caller time to vent their anger. Then confirm all the information. 8. Find out what the caller wants you to do and, if you cannot do it, suggest alternative solutions that are allowed within your program’s policies. 9. If the client is not satisfied with your solutions, refer him/her to your supervisor or someone higher up than you. Do not refer the client to someone at your own level because this will make him/her feel shuffled around. 10. Never argue with the client. 11. Thank the client for their comments. 12. Allow the client to hang-up first. 13. Inform the appropriate people in your organization about the call and it’s resolution. PROBLEM CALLERS Nowhere is the old saying “the squeaky wheel gets the most grease” more true than in the case of problem clients. Lawyer Referral Service staff can easily make several referrals, catch up on the day’s filing and take a coffee break in the time it can take to deal with one problem client. Since these types of calls will always be part of any LRS program, it’s useful to consider how best to deal with them. The first consideration should be how the caller is causing the problem. Is he/she rude, upset, incoherent or all of the above? Your approach will be different if the caller is impolite than if he/she is in tears. Often callers are discourteous out of sheer frustration with trying to find the right agency to deal with their problem. We all know the feeling of being given one phone number after another by people whose job descriptions don’t quite encompass answering our particular questions. This is the easiest type of problem client to deal with since often times a genuinely helpful tone from you will eliminate the problem. A caller who is upset may have very good cause to feel that way. It is important that you determine the cause of the caller’s concern. If the caller is upset because of something a panel attorney has or has not done, it is in your interest to know about it. In most cases, the problem is one of poor communication between client and attorney, and you can often help simply by letting the attorney know that the client is unhappy. However, if it appears that there is a real problem with the attorney’s actions, better you be aware of it at the earliest possible time. Some callers are a problem because they just are not able to make themselves understood. Although these calls can take an inordinate amount of time, a careful line of questioning and a lot of patience will usually address the problem. There are some basic assumptions to keep in mind and some simple techniques to use in handling problem clients. First, there is always more than one side to a story. If the caller is complaining about a panel attorney or about one of your staff, you can be sure that you are hearing only one version of events. Listen carefully to the caller’s gripe, but be certain to get the other person’s account before taking any action. Beware of the caller who has been transferred to you as a “problem client” yet who is exceedingly reasonable and polite towards you. Chances are this was not the tone he/she used with your staff person. Often callers have insisted on speaking with a supervisor because they don’t like the answer they have received from your staff member or panel member. They are hoping you will have a different answer. The most effective demeanor you can assume when dealing with problem clients is one of calm. Make a point of lowering your voice one octave each time they raise theirs. Don’t argue-state your position and if the caller will not accept it, so be it. You can often avoid a clash with irate callers by asking them to call back after you have had a chance to examine whether you can be of assistance. Often their mood will have moderated. Also, they are likely to be more receptive to what you have to say since you clearly have made an effort to assist them, even if ultimately there is nothing you can do to help. It is a good idea, and you can save time later, to take notes when talking to someone with a complaint, or who is otherwise hard to handle. Keep a file or computer record for “problem clients” so that you don’t have to cover the same ground if the person calls again, as they often do, a month later with the same demands. However, no matter how well you think you are prepared, some “problem clients” will get the better of you. Always stay calm and if you find that you are unable to handle the caller, refer it to your supervisor immediately. Below are four different categories of problem callers. This following information should be helpful in dealing with the various types of problematic callers: The Talker: This individual tends to be an older person (but there are young droners as well) a telltale signal that you are beginning a conversation with a talker is when you hear opening phrases like the following: “It all started in 1953 when...” or “It’s a long story and I’m going to have to start from the beginning...” or “I really have five different cases...” or “So I said... and then he said... so then the doctor said...” Problem Areas: 1) Lengthy calls take too much time away from other callers and from other callers and from the others who work on the staff 2) Staff handling such calls run the risk of being drawn into the caller’s story and either:” a) giving legal advice or b) giving sociological/psychological advice Solutions: 1) Briefly explain that while the attorney or agency to which you will refer the caller will need all the details, all you need are some basic facts. 2) Ask specific questions to elicit relevant information, even if it means interrupting the caller. Using the word Stop is often more effective than just trying to talk over the caller. The Complainer: This person is unhappy but is not yet to the point of serious anger and rudeness (see “the fighter”). Usually, the Complainer is upset about one of the following issues: 1) “I had an attorney and he never returned my calls and I still don’t know where my case stands” or 2) She said “I can’t be referred to an attorney - why not?” (Note: this differs from the Fighter’s response only in tone) or 3) “Why can’t I see a lawyer on Sunday afternoon within a mile from my home?” Problem Areas: 1) Complaining calls tend to take a long time to handle (see “the talker”) 2) Complainers tend to frustrate the staff who are trying to help them Solutions: 1) Be sympathetic but brief, then move onto the relevant issues at hand. 2) Use the time-tested “shrink’s” method of empathizing, e.g. “You must be really frustrated with that attorney, but hopefully we can refer you to one who can clean up the problem,” or “I know you’ve been on hold a long time and I apologize. If I were you, I’d be upset too, but we are a small non-profit organization and we can only afford to hire a limited number of staff. Can I help you now?” 3) Offer to accept written complaints about the panel member of LRS related problem in question. Follow up promptly to written complaints even if only to say your committee or Executive Director is studying it. Act on complaints about panel members. The Fighter: This person is really angry right from the start. He/she may be one of the “demanding poor” or someone who has been shuffled from agency to agency and cannot seem to get help. The caller may be legitimately angry over a previous experience with an attorney or over some error created by your own LRS. Often, however, the person on the other end of the line is just a jerk. The Problem: 1) Nobody likes a screamer. Angry callers can raise a staff person’s blood pressure beyond endurable limits. Often, one is tempted to scream right back. Resist the urge. 2) At the very least, an angry caller takes a long time to calm down (see “the talker”). Solution: 1) The best way to handle an angry caller is not to provoke him/her. If you have handled his/her legal matter with care, if you have referred him/her to an appropriate agency or panel member, if you have a written complaint mechanism by which he/she can voice frustration with you or his/her attorneys, you may be able to avoid a shouting match. However, some angry callers are an inevitable by-product of referral work. 2) If the caller is angry at someone/something outside the LRS’s control - remember that our legal system can be very frustrating and many callers are justifiably angry. They do not, however, have the right to turn that anger towards you. Be sympathetic and helpful, but when you are the target of the caller’s anger, politely but firmly (do not yell back) inform the caller that you will hang up the phone, if he/she continues to speak in that way. 3) If the caller is angry at someone/something within the LRS’s control - Admit your mistakes. Don’t try to cover up a goof. We all make them. Sometimes just “coming clean” will calm a fighter. Also, be willing to give your name and the name of your supervisor, if asked (You may wish to call your supervisor to warn his/her of an impending complaint.) If the issue which angered the caller is not a mistake, but rather a policy or practice which the caller feels is inappropriate ask him/her to put the complaint in writing to be reviewed by your committee. (See “the complainer”). 4) The Loon: Every LRS has these. Problem: 1) Talking to people about the microwave/neutron/radio waves which they are receiving or the fact that the FBI/CIA/President is reading their mail, monitoring their calls or following them on Martian odysseys is not a productive use of LRS staff time. 2) It is hard to get these guys off the phone (see “the talker”.) The Solution: 1) Humor - sometimes you can humor these guys off the phone. 2) They have often tried several other sources and if you tell them that you only have lawyers for more basic types of matters they will often accept that. 3) Referral to social service agency - many of these callers will be best served by talking to a professional outside the legal area - most communities have mental health clinics. 4) Referral to Attorney - sometimes these seemingly crazy callers have very legitimate legal needs. If you think a caller may have one, you should refer him/her to a sympathetic attorney. Be sure to caution the attorney about the eccentric behavior of the caller first. STAFF TRAINING PROGRAMS The LRS staff are in the forefront of the sponsoring organization’s relations with the public. They need adequate training if they are to efficiently and accurately determine the nature of a caller’s problem, as well as the appropriate referral to be made. Staff must be able to categorize legal problems in such a way that clients are referred to attorneys with relevant experience. Referral services can structure training programs in many ways. Committee and/or panel members can be invited to come to the LRS office to make presentations to the staff on various substantive areas of law. If possible, these sessions should be videotaped in order to available for future staff. The attorney volunteers can prepare overviews of various substantive areas of law and short lists of appropriate questions within each category. These outlines can form the basis of a training manual. It is also helpful if Committee members can be available to answer occasional questions from the staff regarding particularly difficult matters. In addition to its benefits to the public, good screening by the LRS staff is an asset to panel members since the number of misdirected referrals is decreased. If only those clients with legal problems within the attorney’s areas of expertise and who are able to pay a fee are actually referred, the amount of inadvertent pro bono work is substantially reduced. Panel members often are more inclined to participate in organized pro bono efforts if their LRS work, while recognized for its public service elements, is focused appropriately on clients actually in need of legal services and with the ability to pay for such services. If the client would be better served by a referral to a social service or governmental agency, the staff must be aware of the resources which are available. Making referrals to other agencies requires an initial investment of time developing a list of local resources. It is just as important to keep this list up to date. There are often changes in an agency’s focus, hours, languages spoken, etc. It is helpful to convene a meeting to bring together representatives of various agencies dealing with the types of problems faced by LRS clients. Other referral services have found such meetings to be an extremely helpful way to acquaint LRS staff with potential resources, as well as to inform other agencies of the purpose and limitations of the LRS. It can be as important to know what types of problems should not be referred to LRS as what types should be referred. The work of the people answering the phones on lawyer referral services is sometimes undervalued, yet their function in dealing with callers is the most fundamental element of these programs. Because of the volume of calls handled by most referral services, the LRS probably impacts a greater number of people than any other activity of the sponsoring association. To the extent that they do more than give out the name of the next attorney on a list, it is representative of the public services aspects of the legal profession and the image of lawyers generally is enhanced by the services provided through LRS. FREQUENT AREAS FOR SPECIFIC STAFF TRAINING: Small Claims Court Consumer Law Child Support Enforcement Bankruptcy Workers Compensation Civil Litigation Social Security Disability Law Special Education Law Domestic Violence Criminal Law Landlord/Tenant Negligence VII. Bar Sponsored Public Service Programs (INSERT APPROPRIATE BAR RELATED INFORMATION ON PUBLIC SERVICE PROGRAMS) ACKNOWLEDGMENTS BY THE AUTHORS Shell M. Goar, State Bar of Wisconsin Elizabeth A. O'Neil, Massachusetts Bar Association This training manual consists of work from many people over the years. In an effort to provide information which gives an overview of the many components to training new staff members, we have compiled information from LRS/LRIS programs throughout the country. We would like to thank the following people and their bar association’s for their assistance and materials: Jean Kelleher Niebauer, Esquire Legal Services of N. Virginia Drucilla Ramey, Esquire Bar Association of San Francisco Audrey Ryan New York State Bar Association Sheree L. Swetin ABA/LRIS Staff Director Carol Woods Bar Association of San Francisco and * Cindy A. Raisch, Esquire, to whom we are indebted for her contributions not just to this manual but to all of her unconditional work with each Lawyer Referral Service she touched. CAVEAT This manual was based on the experiences and views of its authors. Certain procedures described may not be available or appropriate for your program. The text of the manual should be personalized for your program as appropriate. Information contained in brackets [ ] should be changed to reflect the procedures and facts of your program. Notes 1. Items in brackets may or may not apply to various entities.