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December 12, 2015 Dialogue

Meet the ABA’s Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral Service

Each year the ABA President-elect asks the Chair of the Standing Committee and ABA staff for recommendations for new members. There are nine committee members plus the chair, with a third of the committee (or so) rotating off each year.  Terms of appointment are for no longer than three years. A committee chair may serve at the pleasure of the ABA President for up to three years. The newest four members to the ABA’s Standing Committee are from Southern and Northern California, Texas, and Wisconsin.  Like our own LRIS Committees, the ABA’s Standing Committee for Lawyer Referral Services seeks to address the key issues affecting lawyer referral service programs and appropriately advise and construct creative solutions. If you attended last year’s ABA LRIS Workshop, highlights of which are also available in this issue of the Dialogue, you may have seen them around. 

To get to know them a bit more, here are the profiles of these newest members, each of whom have answered two questions: 1) What motivated them to participate on the Committee and 2) What they are looking forward to working on as a Committee member.  Throughout the year, we will profile more of the Committee members so you can get to know them!

Jonathan Safran
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Samster, Konkel & Safran, S. C.
Law School: Indiana University, Maurer School of Law, 1983
Practice Areas: Personal Injury and Civil Rights Law
Co-Author: Injured In An Accident? Ten of America’s Leading Personal Injury Attorneys Share Their Wisdom, Rutherford Publishing House

What motivated you to participate on the Committee?

I have practiced law for more than thirty years in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, always representing individuals in personal injury cases and in civil rights claims. I have been involved with our Local Milwaukee Bar Association’s Law Day activities, manning phone lines to provide free legal advice, and our Milwaukee Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service Committee for the past eight years or so. Over my career and as an active Committee member, I have come to realize the importance of a legal services program, such as the LRIS, being available to assist individuals with referrals to either appropriate community resources or to competent pre-screened attorneys to help with their legal issues. When an opening occurred on the National ABA Standing Committee, I was asked to apply, and felt that it was time that I also commit to this worthwhile endeavor of my profession.

What are you looking forward to working on as a Committee member?

I look forward to working on ways to provide best practices ideas to the different LRIS programs around the country, and to enhance what LRIS services are provided, especially with regards to low-cost legal services through modest means panel programs. Having a belief that LRIS also helps to promote and enhance a positive image of the legal profession, I would like to expand LRIS groups to other attorney groups.

James Willis Snell
Austin, Texas
The Snell Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in 2007
Law School: Texas Tech School of Law, 1999, cum laude
Practice Areas: Civil litigation, personal injury, real estate, business, and construction law

What motivated you to participate on the Committee?

I have been involved with the lawyer referral service in Austin, Texas for approximately seven years serving on the Board of Directors, including two one year terms as Chair of the board. Through that experience I have been able to learn just how valuable lawyer referral services are to a community. Through my membership on the committee, I hope to, on a national level, work to develop new ways to ensure lawyer referral services stay relevant and available.

What are you looking forward to working on as a Committee member?

The internet, for-profit lawyer referral services, and other competing interests are creating new challenges for lawyer referral services. Our services vet the client's legal problem and match the client with an attorney who has been scrutinized, to a degree, to ensure he or she belongs on the panel. That is a wonderful service and we have to make sure lawyer referral services continue to thrive so they can continue to provide those services. Our biggest challenge, in my opinion, is to develop new ways to stay relevant. I am looking forward to addressing that challenge and finding new ways to reach the community.