February 17, 2017 Dialogue

The Value Proposition of LRIS

By Emmy Pasternak

Every day there are an increasing number of legal start-ups courting the consumer’s self- diagnosed legal needs. There are value propositions from online directories of attorneys and referral platforms with ready-made profiles, pictures, ratings, and reviews. Online do-it-yourself document assembly packages promise everything needed for a specific legal issue. Low monthly subscription dues allow for discounted legal fees whenever help is needed 24/7. Consumers who want legal answers instantaneously are not without options.

So let’s remember again the value proposition of LRIS programs with an anecdote. Not long ago, the LRIS in San Francisco fielded a call where the caller asked what he would get by paying $35 for a consultation with an estate planning attorney, when for not much more, he could get a will made through a major online document delivery platform. It’s a good question. Even if there is no charge for the consultation in your LRIS, it still raises the question:  What is the value proposition of using an LRIS and do you make a habit of informing your potential clients about it?

While we know what is good and valuable about our services, do your intake counselors know how to articulate that to callers? Do they know to mention those benefits in the course of the interview with the potential client to build brand trust?

That particular day when the caller asked the question in dollars and cents, the LRIS counselor informed him about the advantages of using an ABA approved lawyer referral service, which meant that the attorneys are required to be insured, experienced, and vetted. The counselor also explained that attorneys help to ensure that everything is done correctly and they can spot issues to consider that might otherwise be overlooked. And, through the LRIS, there is accountability for the referral and oversight of the quality of legal services rendered.

Educating your referral counselors in the value propositions of LRIS helps, but giving them a handy checklist of those benefits keeps the propositions available for ready reference on a call or email. Here is a sample checklist:

  1. Our attorneys are vetted by objective experience criteria
  2. Our attorneys are all required by our rules to carry malpractice insurance
  3. Our attorneys have on average X years of experience; Y years of experience in areas of law that involve jury trials
  4. Our attorneys are verified to be in good standing with the State Bar of (insert your state)
  5. We monitor the quality of services provided by the lawyer referred and support you should you have questions or concerns of any kind
  6. Your call is confidential because you are talking with an LRIS approved by the ABA
  7. We can recommend other legal resources that might be helpful to you
  8. We help you know how to best prepare for your consultation with the attorney
  9. We are live and able to assist you from the moment you call!
  10. We’ve been in the community since ZZZZ, and unlike online services that might come and go, we are an established presence in the community.

It it may be helpful to promote the LRIS value proposition on your website too. Here is the example from our webpage in San Francisco:

Lawyer Referral & Information Service of The Bar Association of San Francisco Online Find-a-Lawyer Directories
Friendly, trained, multi-lingual staff who listen and understand legal needs Impersonal
Objective experience standards required and verified for participating attorneys No experience or qualification requirements
Malpractice insurance required and verified for participating attorneys Attorneys are not required to carry malpractice insurance
All attorneys must be in good standing with the State Bar of California Attorneys’ record with the State Bar of California might not be checked
Certified by the State Bar of California and regulated under rules of the California Supreme Court Online attorney selection websites or directories are not certified by the State Bar of California, approved by the American Bar Association, or subject to regulatory oversight of any kind
Ongoing reviews of attorney performance No director available to manage client questions and concerns
Approved by the American Bar Association as a Model Program for protection of the legal consumer No consumer protection oversight

 

In summary, there is a very personalized, public service that LRIS performs that can sometimes be overlooked by the caller and by ourselves, too, unless reminded. Keeping our value proposition front and center is another way we can promote the excellent service we provide.

Emmy Pasternak

Case Development and Outreach Manager, LRIS and ADR, San Francisco