As the first year chair of the Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service, I would like to take this opportunity to formerly introduce myself and share with you my thoughts on LRIS, the goals of Standing Committee and summarize the issues now facing the LRIS community.
By way of background, my first introduction to the LRIS community came in the late 1990s. At that time, I was a member of the Executive Committee of the Allen County Bar Association in Fort Wayne, Indiana and our LRIS committee had requested a consulting visit from the American Bar Association's Program of Assistance and Review (PAR).
Fortunately for me, the PAR consultant who met with us was a colleague from my days in the ABA Young Lawyers Division. Debbie Segal provided me with an in-depth tutorial on lawyer referral programs and their impact on communities. I became an instant convert and pledged to do my part to insure a healthy LRIS program in my community.
That was almost twenty years ago and though I left the Fort Wayne legal community shortly afterwards, I have always remembered the importance of lawyer referral to the community. While having a career as an in-house counsel hasn't afforded me the opportunity to participate directly in a lawyer referral program as a panelist, I have had the opportunity through my pro bono work to collaborate with other lawyer referral programs. As I read the listserv correspondence, I know that top issues of concern relate to the continued success and viability of your programs. Issues such as, reduced call volume, retention of panelists, competition from outside entities and profitability are frequent topics of discussion.
I feel honored to be the Chair of the Standing Committee and am excited to enhance the model of LRIS in whatever ways we can going forward. Together we have an opportunity to enrich the work all of you engage in every day.
We have a strong committee of dedicated members who either serve as staff of or participate in their local lawyer referral programs. We also have members who have extensive experience as leaders in the ABA. The combination of these assets provides you with an extraordinary resource as you optimize the performance and success of your lawyer referral programs. Our most valued resource, staff director Jane Nosbisch, is a veritable encyclopedia on all things LRIS. I encourage you to reach out to us – to share your thoughts, your concerns or just to say hello.
I also encourage you to take advantage of the incredible resources available to you. From using the listserv to query your colleagues, using the ABA's online resource bank, which addresses numerous topics related to LRIS, to attending the National LRIS Workshop for great development and networking opportunities, or taking advantage of our PAR program for an extensive review of your lawyer referral program, the resources are numerous and your Standing Committee on LRIS is here to help.
I look forward to meeting and hearing from you. See you in New Orleans October 28-31, 2015 for the next national workshop!