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Software - Buying a Lawyer Referral Software Package

Lawyer Referral Clearinghouse

Things To Know
Before You Buy A Lawyer Referral Software Package

Before you start evaluating lawyer referral software, you must first consider your own business needs. You are not simply buying software; you are buying a software solution. And in order for this solution to be successful, it must meet your business needs. Identifying these needs - also known as functional requirements - will ensure that your software purchase is right for your referral program, regardless of whether the system that you ultimately select is the most expensive or the most popular.

What do you want the system to do?

  • Manage attorney-client records?
  • Manage bar association-client records?
  • Manage bar association-attorney records?
  • Keep logs of referral activity
  • Schedule appointments
  • Correspond with attorneys
  • Correspond with clients
  • Work directly with clients or attorneys over the Internet?
  • Send and receive e-mail?
  • Conduct chats?
  • Engage in instant messaging

After you have defined your business needs, you can start to look at software packages.

Researching prospective programs

  • Ask others who already use the software (e.g. a listserv or a user group)
    • Ask their opinion of a particular product's strengths and weaknesses
    • Ask how easy the software is to use? (consider your own staff and their skill levels)
  • Consult online product reviews (good luck!)
  • Kick the tires (get a demo or trial version; get an evaluation or trial version)
    • What are the key features?
    • What distinguishes this product from other software solutions?

And before you make your decision, keep in mind that Cost is more that just the sticker price.

  • Do you need new hardware (more memory) to operate the system?
  • How often will you need to upgrade the software with patches from the company (to fix software bugs on enhance functionality)?
  • How much training will you need to get your staff up to speed on the software?
  • Can your IT staff handle the installation process? Maintenance? Or will you need to hire consultants?
  • Will you need to modify your business process ("business process reengineering") to work with the software? Are there costs associated with this?

Lawyer Referral Software Questionnaire

(Use this questionnaire as your guide during the evaluation process.)


Name of Person Submitting Information

Name of Vendor

Name of software products (if not a standalone product, please list all software products required to run the lawyer referral functions, i.e., membership database software, Web-integration software, lawyer referral module)

General: records searching, suitable for any size referral program?

  1. Management of attorney and client records
      a)Attorney and client forms
      b)Processing and billing records
      c)Integration with word processing, spreadsheets, billing, accounting, membership, fax, e-mail
      d)Referral to other agencies


  2. Client registration
      a)Initial intake of client information (by phone or Web)
      b)Contact information
      c)Information about financial status
      d)Information about legal problem


  3. Panel information
      a)Manage attorney records
      b)Attorney panel membership
      c)Qualifications for panel registration
      d)Rotation and selection of attorneys
      e)Method used by LRIS to select attorney
        i)Next on referral list
        ii)By office location
        iii) By subject matter or problem
        iv)By fee to be charged
        v) Combination of factors
        vi)Procedure if on multiple panels
      f)Panels arranged by subject matter?
      g)Limit the number of panels that members may join?


  4. Attorney registration
      a) Registration of attorneys
      b) LRIS standards sent to attorney
      c) Submission of attorney credentials, statement of competency/experience
      d) Attorney proof of legal malpractice insurance coverage
      e) Confirmation of attorney credentials
      f) Assignment to panel


  5. Finances / Fees / Billing
      a)How does software handle:
        i) Referral fees
        ii)Panel registration fees
        iii) Percentage fees
        iv)Alternative funding resources
        v) Track expenses
      b)Panel fee for lawyers?
      c)Separate fee for each specialty panel?
      d)Initial consultation fee paid by client
        i) Who receives the fee for the initial consultation (attorney or to LRIS?)
        ii)Is a portion remitted to the LRIS?
        iii) If the LRIS receives a fee, is a portion remitted to the attorney?
      e)Is the client required to pay a referral fee prior to a referral?
      f)Is the fee waived for hardship cases?
      g)Is the attorney required to pay a portion or percentage of his/her earned fee in a referred matter or service?
      h)Is the fee remittal to the LRIS required in all cases?
      i)What percentage is remitted to the LRIS?
      j)What are exceptions to the fee remittal? (reduced fee, no fee referral, non-contingent)
      k)How are LRIS income and expenses tracked (using the software)?
      l)Does the software track percentage fees? Invoices?


  6. LRIS staff (personnel)
      c)Pay Scale


  7. Operations
      a) Intake and referral procedures
      c)Record keeping
      d)Cost controls
      e)Modest means panels
      f)Client follow-up
      g)Attorney follow-up
      h)Statistical information
      i)Subject matter panels
      j)Insurance and disclaimers
      k)Coordination with other pro bono programs


  8. Scheduling (of appointments)


  9. Tracking referral activity / case status
      a)What happens to client after referral
      b)Appear for first consultation?
      c)Require work beyond first consultation?
      d)For panel attorneys reporting on status of referred cases
      e)Follow-up to determine client satisfaction: client questionnaires?
      f)Peer review process?


  10. Correspondence
      a)Correspondence with clients: send and receive e-mail?
      b)Correspondence with attorneys
      c)Direct contact with clients over Internet
      d)Direct contact with attorneys over Internet


  11. Generation of reports
      a)Allow user to customize reports?
      b)Automate sending of reports?


  12. Generation of forms
      a)Allow user to customize reports?
      b)Automate sending of reports?


  13. Generation of reports
      a)Custom reporting ___


  14. E-mail supported (attorney receipt, client receipt)
      a)Can you e-mail referral information to clients?
      b)Can you e-mail referral information to attorneys?
      c)Confirmation of referrals sent to clients? Attorneys?


  15. Input mechanisms
      a)Can you easily input case status codes?
      b)Can you go back to previous screens while making a referral to correct or revise information?
      c)Does the software allow an unlimited number of referral categories? (marketing locations, members, etc.)
      d)Can the referral process be accomplished by: a) telephone interview; b) in person interview; c) mail; d) online?


  16. Access to referral history
      a)Can you easily input case status codes? How?
      b)Can you access an individual client's referral history? How?
      c)Can you access an individual attorney's referral history? How?


  17. Product constraints
      a)Lacks features


  18. Advertising
      a)To what extent, if any, can system handle advertising?
      b)Media relations
      c)Yellow page ads, community service listings
      d)Publications, brochures
      e)Paid advertising-radio, TV, cable