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Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service

Cindy A Raisch Award - History

Recognizing Superior Service in Public Service Oriented Lawyer Referral and Information Programs


Established by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service in 1996, the award is named for Cindy A. Raisch, an innovator and national leader in the quest to improve the quality of service provided by Lawyer Referral and Information Services.

The award recognizes the enhancement of public service oriented lawyer referral and information programs that provide access for moderate income consumers across the country. Public service oriented programs provide an invaluable service to the consumer seeking an avenue of entry to the legal system that is based on the consumer's actual legal needs, and offer information on non-legal sources to help if those would be more appropriate to the problem.

Award Winners

2019 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

The Orange County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service has earned the 2019 Cindy A. Raisch Award in recognition of its superior effort in revising or restructuring an existing program.

In 2010, OCBA discontinued its modest means program due to a lack of clients that were able to participate given the fee structure of the program.  After lying dormant for 7 years, OCBA revived the program, spending a significant amount of time collecting data and recommendations from the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, the LRIS Committee, current LRIS panel attorneys, and other voluntary bar associations operating modest means programs.  Based upon that data, new fee structures were created that were more inclusive of the target population, and a revitalized pilot program was introduced for family, landlord/tenant, and criminal matters.

When the pilot ended, further restructuring ensued and the new modest means program was implemented by January 2018.  OCBA now has a modest means program available for family, criminal, landlord/tenant, and residential foreclosure matters.  Further, the program has greatly expanded access to those who otherwise would not be able to afford a lawyer and boasts a higher lawyer retention rate than its standard lawyer referral program.

2016 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

The Atlanta Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service has earned the 2016 Cindy A. Raisch Award for its Grant Program that is worthy of emulation.

The Atlanta Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service created a grant program in 2010 with the mission of extending access to justice to those members of the Atlanta community who could not afford legal services.

This fiscal year, the Atlanta Bar LRIS set an unprecedented threshold in its grant giving. Keeping its own primary mission in mind, the Atlanta Bar Association LRIS proudly contributed $200,000 in grants to organizations that met the mission of access to justice.

The LRIS Board Chair, Celia Sunne stated “In 2015 LRIS had its best year since the inception of the percentage fee program. We passed our success on to pro bono organizations in accordance with our mission. So many people need good legal services, but are at a loss as to how to obtain those services.”

The Atlanta Bar LRIS received grant submissions from 15 very worthy Pro Bono organizations whose primary mission is to represent low income clients. After careful review of each submitted application, a decision was made to contribute to several of these organizations.

The largest grant amount of $70,000 was awarded to the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF). The mission of this organization is to create safe and stable homes to families by inspiring attorneys to fight for equal justice. AVLF will utilize the funds granted to them by the Atlanta Bar Lawyer Referral Service to serve victims of intimate partner abuse. They will offer legal consultation, advice, direction and direct representation in their efforts to secure protective orders for victims. AVLF will also apply grant money awarded to them by the Atlanta Bar LRIS to aid them with their Saturday Lawyer Program. This program recruits volunteer lawyers to meet with tenants aggrieved by their landlord’s failure to repair or otherwise comply with the law. Volunteer lawyers also consult with employees who do not receive pay for work performed to help secure monies owed to them by their past employers.

The remainder of the grant pool contribution was directed to specific programs of pro bono organizations who have a direct impact on the Atlanta community in the following ways:

  1. The Atlanta Legal Aid Society will continue to advocate for disability clients who need support to live meaningful lives in the community;
  2. The Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network will represent asylum seekers fleeing persecution from their home country in immigration court proceedings;
  3. The Georgia Innocence Project will evaluate, investigate and litigate post-conviction criminal cases;
  4. The Georgia Justice Project will provide legal assistance to clients by aiding them with correcting their criminal records, filing for record expungements, pardons and first offenders status and;
  5. The Latin American Association will expand their domestic violence program to the low- income Hispanic community.

2014 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

The SF-Marin Lawyer Referral & Information Service’s ADA Compliance & Education Program

The San Francisco–Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service’s American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance and Education Program was created three years ago at the height of a crisis affecting small business owners in San Francisco. Business locations inaccessible to persons in wheelchairs, or with other physically limiting conditions, were being sued or threatened with a lawsuit at an alarming rate. Barriers to access including, a front door step, a doorway too narrow, a restroom that was not wheelchair accessible, were generating notices of accessibility violations, followed by demand letters, and eventually lawsuits. The mom and pop store owners in receipt of these legal communications often did not speak English and even if they did, would find it too difficult to navigate the necessary legal and building code information to remedy the access issues causing the lawsuits.

In collaboration with city supervisors and the San Francisco Office of Small Business, the SF–Marin LRIS developed workshops about the ADA which were first held for merchants in neighborhoods throughout the city, but then grew into legal presentations at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco Business Week, Legal Services for Entrepreneurs, town halls and the hour–long "Your Legal Rights" radio program that reaches an estimated 20,000 Bay Area listeners. To ready the attorney resources for such an effort a legal training was arranged for LRIS business and real estate panel attorneys who were representing commercial tenants and landlords, and panel application standards were developed.

The program has helped many in the business community gain footing in an arena where they had no understanding of how to best manage legal, financial and architectural environment. Since inception of the program, over 100 small businesses have received legal information and assistance through referrals to qualified ADA Compliance attorneys and through legal workshops and presentations. More details.

2014 Certificate of Meritorious Recognition

Washington County Bar Association Pro Bono Limited Representation Custody Program

The Washington County Bar Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania "Pro Bono Limited Representation Custody Program" was established to assist family law legal aid income–eligible clients and those eligible for WCBA's Modest Means Program. Under this Limited Representation program, a client receives a pro bono attorney from the time of filing up through the pre–custody conciliation meeting. If no agreement is reached at that meeting, the attorney is permitted by the court to withdraw from the case. A Limited Representation program subcommittee was created by the Pro Bono and Lawyer Referral Services Committee to develop program guidelines, as well as forms and agreements for attorneys to use with their clients. They drafted a new local rule, approved by the Court, permitting an attorney to provide limited representation. The program is "low bono" in that it provides attorneys with a $175 stipend upon withdrawal from the case. Stipends are paid through the 501(c)(3) charitable Washington County Bar Foundation.

Since the program was launched in October 2013 over 160 clients have been referred to the program.

Both Washington and San Francisco County programs have served to enrich the public service mission under which they were formed, increased awareness of their programs within the communities they serve and expanded access to lawyers for a target population unable to cope with a particular legal need. In so doing, the relevance and power of what lawyer referral programs can offer their communities continues and the "business of public service" carries on.

2010 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

The Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, Inc. has earned the 2010 Cindy A. Raisch Award for its superior efforts as a critical player in the legal services delivery system in Central Texas.  The continuing goal of the organization is to inform as many people as possible that affordable legal service avenues exist and to provide excellent customer service to the public and panel members.

The program demonstrates its commitment to grass roots outreach by attending community events, speaking to civic organizations, governmental entities, and private businesses. A sampling of this outreach includes appearances at:

Austin Independent School District (AISD) Back to School Bash
City of Austin "Getting Connected"
Senior Housing Resource Fair
Austin Police Department National Night Out
Brown Bag Lunch presentations for governmental agencies and the private sector
Texas Women's Conference
Vietnamese Community Legal Fair
People's Law School

The People’s Law School is a partnership with the Austin Bar Association that is a particularly exemplary annual outreach effort. Consumers can benefit from more than seventeen subject area tracks offering 36 unique programs in this one-day annual program housed at the University of Texas Law School. The LegalLine program is another noteworthy outreach effort that is conducted on a monthly basis.  In 2009 the program volunteers spoke with more than 1,800 individuals.  Additionally, in 2009, the LRS of Central Texas sponsored a Spanish LegalLine program with Univision television that resulted in 16 attorney volunteers responding to approximately 900 callers.  As a direct result of this effort, Univision has also offered marketing guidance and translation services to the LRS of Central Texas in its continuing outreach to the Hispanic community.

In addition to grass roots outreach, LRS of Central Texas reaches into schools to present educational programs for young adults.  Now You Are 18 booklets are distributed to high school seniors in the three county area surrounding Austin.  The booklet distribution program is coupled with a speaker bureau effort to reach parents and young adults through their schools, churches, and community organizations.

The LRS of Central Texas “business of public service” effort includes the distribution of percentage fee revenue to local pro bono legal services providers and an expanded public relations campaign.  These expanded advertising efforts have included: ad campaigns on commercial and cable television, commercial and public radio, print advertising in magazines, billboards, and movie theaters.  These measures, along with other meritorious efforts, have made this program worthy of emulation by public service programs across the country.

2009 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

The Hillsborough Bar Association led a campaign to increase public access to legal services and awareness of legal issues by 1) introducing a monthly Library Series where the public could meet with attorneys for a brief consultation at no charge—particular emphasis was placed on information resources for those facing foreclosure; 2) establishing a People’s Law School to educate consumers about the law; and 3) partnering with local broadcast media to increase visibility of the Lawyer Referral Program. Additional resources were devoted to increasing bilingual legal services delivery, nursing home outreach and also a community law fair for low income and indigent clients. The Hillsborough Bar increases the public’s access to appropriate legal and non-legal services and is a program worthy of emulation.

2008 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

The Brooklyn Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (BBA LRS), within the timeframe of four years, completly re-vamped key operational features of its program which allowed a significant increase in access for the community. In 2004, the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Bar Association made a commitment to the future of the public service lawyer referral program by 1) converting the service from a walk-in effort to a telephone service; 2) installing new telephone and computer systems; 3) hiring additional staff; 4) adding an online referral capability; 5) implementing percentage fees; and 6) hiring a new LRS executive director. Additional efforts included addition of bilingual staff capability, increased advertising, particularly to bilingual communities, and achievement of ABA LRIS Logo and Slogan status. Because of these significant changes the BBA LRS, went from operating with a yearly deficit to producing an income surplus of $50,000. These measures, along with other meritorious efforts, have made this program worthy of emulation by public service lawyer referral programs across the country.

2007 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

The Milwaukee Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service has dramatically restructured, revised and rejuvenated itself within the past 24 months resulting in a superior service worthy of emulation. During this recent period the program made the following improvements: 1) completely re-structured case types resulting in more efficient case designations; 2) redesigned the software database to make it more user-friendly resulting in easier navigation; 3) revised the attorney oversight rules to incorporate higher standards for increased quality assurance; 4) developed more precise intake documents to insure uniformity of services provided to clients during the intake and initial consultation phase; and 5) developed more rigorous standards for follow-up. Additionally, the program’s information component was expanded to include: 1) newly-established modest means program; 2) established a monthly Lawyer Hotline to address brief advice issues for the public; and 3) re-invigorated the annual Law Day program and a Teenage Alcohol Prevention Program. These measures, along with other administrative improvements, have made this program one deemed worthy of emulation by public service lawyer referral programs across the country.

2006 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

Recognizing the Houston Lawyer Referral Service, Inc. (HLRS), for its pioneering marketing outreach to the Hispanic community. HLRS recognized early on a need to track and react to the evolving ethnic makeup of the area's population. It is estimated that by 2030, Hispanic individuals could compromise a majority of the Houston area population. Starting in 2002 and proceeding from the assumption that the vast majority of Houston's Hispanic population were not aware that HLRS existed, the service systematically developed a marketing plan to reach and serve this huge segment of potential HLRS clients. HLRS developed a sophisticated strategy for targeting middle class Hispanic individuals (who could pay for legal service) and creating four "levels" of marketing focus: awareness of the service; knowledge of what services HLRS does and does not provide; education on why consumers potentially need the service; and projection of an effective image enabling HLRS to engender trust and interest among potential clients. The marketing plan was implemented from 2002 through 2005 through the following programming: Spanish Yellow Pages; working with a radio station to distribute 20,000 Spanish-language bookmarks; collaboration with district clerks to provide information attached to citations; brochures; and PSAs and news releases. As a result, HLRS saw an initial 10 percent increase in calls from consumers who prefer to speak Spanish. Moreover, from 2,148 referrals in 2001, there were 4,167 referrals to the Hispanic market inn 2005. HLRS has renewed its commitment to marketing reaching the Hispanic community going forward. HLRS has set an outstanding example for LRIS programs around the country seeking ways to reach, respond to and better serve growing minority populations.

2005 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

Honoring the Fairfax (Va.) Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service (FBA LRIS), for its remarkable upgrade of a neglected and ineffective lawyer referral program to a national model of a well-functioning program giving excellent service to lawyers and clients. Prior to the improvements the FBA LRIS, the LRIS was short-staffed, staff was grossly underpaid, they worked in bad office space, the LRIS computer program was non-functioning, the budget was stagnant and the LRIS was incapable of generating enough revenue for a rudimentary marketing campaign. Moreover, the service was not responsive to panel members and was unable to respond to requests for referrals from low to moderate income individuals. A task force of the Fairfax Bar Association resolved to save and improve the LRIS, and under the committed leadership of a new LRIS director, Donna J. McBride, the following was accomplished: (i) installation of a computer system to track referrals, implement an equitable attorney rotation system and generate reports with valuable marketing data; (ii) creation of an effective modest means program, in which attorneys agree to charge no more than $75 per hour for their work; (iii) dramatic improvement of staff morale and continuity, along with better pay; (iv) creation of additional subject matter panels; (v) establishment of a percentage fee program to help finance the LRIS (vi) creation of a marketing program; and (vii) improvement of overall program from a dysfunctional shell to a vibrant, ABA certified, exemplary LRIS program.

2004 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

Recognizing the Limited Representation Panel of the Lawyer Referral Service of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, for a major program innovation worthy of emulation. The mission of the "Limited Representation Lawyer Referral Service Panel" is to help a significant portion of the Contra Costa County community who would not otherwise have the assistance of a legal professional. Discrete task representation is intended for self-represented litigants who are not prepared to hire an attorney for "full representation," but who need specific advice, and/or services. The attorney and client mutually agree to handle a specific and limited set of services, tailored to the needs and concerns of the client through a detailed contract. The Lawyer Referral Service of the Contra Costa County Bar Association pioneered this type of delivery system and further advanced the field of lawyer referral and information service by providing a roadmap of materials for the introduction of this delivery system into the operations of a lawyer referral program.

2003 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

Honoring the Kansas Bar Association (KBA) in conjunction with Kansas Legal Services for their Lawyer Advice Line, for a program worthy of emulation. The KBA Lawyer Advice Line is designed to provide clients with valuable legal advice, but also preserve a panel attorney's place in the referral rotation when clients need very limited help, not a full consultation. The service provides yet another avenue for the LRIS program to give legal information to middle and lower-income consumers, with the added value of generating further revenue for the bar association. Of particular note is the elegant way in which the KBA incorporated its existing technology, and with a very small additional investment, expanded its ability to serve the public. KBA developed a very successful brief advice program, but more importantly showed that a statewide program located in a rural area could be financially successful.

2002 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

Recognizing the Legal Referral Service, of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York and New York County Lawyers Program, for a major program innovation in public service Lawyer Referral and Information Programs. The program is most deserving because of its immediate response to the World Trade Center disaster. The LRS quickly organized a panel of volunteer attorneys, and coordinated the provision of entirely free legal services for victims. Within days, the program had coordinated with iLawyer (the authorized Internet vendor for ABA Approved LRIS programs) to set up a special emergency website, which enabled the LRS to enter and track referrals as well as to check for conflicts of interest, a very important consideration to enable the volunteers to represent the victims. Procedures were established to allow the staff of New York State Bar's LRIS and the Bar Association of Essex County New Jersey to enter data directly into the iLawyer/Legal Referral Service database. This data entry feature, coupled with an agreement to take calls on the NYSBA's toll-free disaster assistance number, enabled the LRS to expedite assistance to victims when its own lines and staff were very inundated. It also provided toll-free access to family members from out of town who had lost relatives or had other World Trade Center Disaster-related legal issues.

2001 Cindy A. Raisch Award Winner

The New York State Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service, for a superior lawyer referral and information program worthy of emulation. The program highlights include a continuing commitment to excellence; unique efforts to provide assistance when disaster strikes; and a leadership role and outreach to local bar lawyer referral services in New York in an effort to encourage and assist them to enhance the quality of service they provide to the public. These activities were in addition to providing a full service lawyer referral and information program.

Prior Cindy A. Raisch Award Winners

2000—Bar Association of San Francisco Lawyer Referral Service, San Francisco, California
1999—Toledo Bar Association, Toledo, Ohio
1998—King County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service, Seattle, Washington
1997—Lawyer Referral Service of the Travis County Bar Association, Austin, Texas

Certificate of Meritorious Recognition

1997—Knoxville Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service