Lawyer Referral Services in California

Lawyer Referral Services in California must be certified by the State Bar of California and must conform with certain standards adopted by the California Supreme Court. In California, Section 6155 of the Business and Professions Code regulates lawyer referral services.

The American Bar Association also recognizes lawyer referral services throughout the United States that meet additional standards set by the ABA. These community based services in California are often sponsored by county level bar associations. Some city level bar associations also sponsor Lawyer Referral Services.

The Lawyer Referral Services are partially funded by the consultation fee charged to the person seeking the referral. Additionally, the attorney must pay annual member dues to serve on a panel. For many of these services, the attorney must pay the service a small percentage of any attorney fees received from the referral to the service.

Many of these programs have Bilingual staff that speak both English and Spanish or can provide a referral to a Bilingual attorney. The staff will answer the initial call to determine whether a referral to a Panel Attorney is appropriate. If an attorney is needed, the program will give the caller the name and telephone number of one or more licensed, insured and experienced attorneys.


What are Lawyer Referral Services in California?

After receiving the referral from the lawyer referral service, you can contact the attorney's office directly to schedule a 30 minute consultation to discuss the case at no additional charge. During the consultation, the client and attorney can discuss the additional attorney fees needed for any representation.

The Lawyer Referral Service also provides oversight or follow up services after the initial referral. For instance, many of the services conduct a survey to determine customer satisfaction with the service.

The American Bar Association also maintains a national directory of lawyer referral services in each state. Visit the website for each service for more information. If you see any information that needs to be corrected or updated, please send a message to support@lawyerlegion.com.


Lawyer Referral Services Listed by County

The most popular lawyer referral programs in California are managed by county level bar associations. Unlike other states including Texas and Florida, the State Bar of California does not sponsor its own Lawyer Referral Service. Visit the links below for more information about each service.



Alameda County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
1000 Broadway, Suite 480
Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: 510-302-2222
FAX: 510-302-2224
Website: www.acbanet.org

Serving Alameda County, San Francisco County, Contra Costa County



Contra Costa County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

2300 Clayton Road, Suite 520
Concord, CA 94520
Phone: 925-825-5700
Website: www.cccba.org

Serving Contra Costa County and east Alameda County



Fresno County Bar Association Attorney Referral and Information Service

1221 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 300
Fresno, CA 93721-1720
Phone: 559-264-0137
FAX: 559-264-8726
Website: www.fresnocountybar.org/referral.htm

Serving Fresno County



Los Angeles County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
P.O. Box 55020
Los Angeles, CA 90055-2020
Phone: 213-243-1525
FAX: 213-626-0296
Website: www.smartlaw.org

Serving Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County



Marin County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
30 N. San Pedro Road, #140
San Rafael, CA 94903

[This service was discontinued on July 1, 2014]


Monterey County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

2620 Colonel Durham Drive
Seaside, CA 93955
Phone: 831-582-3600
FAX: 831-582-5401
e-mail: lrs@montereycountybar.org
Website: www.montereycountybar.org

Serving Monterey County


Orange County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
4101 Westerly Place
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Phone: (949) 440-6747
FAX: 949-440-6710
Website: www.lrisoc.org

Serving Orange County


Riverside County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
4129 Main Street, Suite 100
Riverside, CA 92501
Phone: 951-682-7520 or 760-568-5555
FAX: 951-682-0106
e-mail: lrs@rcba.net
Website: www.riversidecountybar.com

Serving Riverside County


Sacramento County Bar Association Attorney Referral Service

1329 Howe Avenue, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95835
Phone: 916-564-6707
FAX: 916-564-3787
e-mail: scba@sacbar.org
Website: www.sacbarlawyer.org

Serving Sacramento County


San Bernardino County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
555 North Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92401-1201
Phone: 909-888-6791
FAX: 909-889-0400
Website: www.SBCBA.org

Serving San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Redlands, Victorville, Hesperia, Barstow, Ontario, and other locations in the Inland Empire and High Desert



Western San Bernardino County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
Physical address:
8291 Utica Avenue, Ste. 102-B
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730

Mailing address:
P.O. Box
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91729
Phone: 909-483-0548
FAX: 909-483-0553
e-mail: westernlrs@aol.com
Website: www.wsbcba.org

Serving Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County


San Luis Obispo County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service

P.O. Box 14840
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406
Phone: 805-541-5502
FAX: 805-541-5506
e-mail: Lawyerreferral@att.net
Website: www.slobar.org

Serving San Luis Obispo County


San Diego County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
Serving San Diego County
401 W. A St. #1100
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-231-8585 or 800-464-1529
FAX: 619-696-3987
e-mail: lris@sdcba.org
Website: www.sdcba.org

Serving San Diego County

Northern San Diego County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
249 S. Indiana Ave., 2nd Floor
Vista, CA 92084
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 2802
Vista, CA 92085
Phone: 760-758-4755
FAX: 760-758-3979
e-mail: lrs@bansdc.org
Website: www.lawreferral.org

Serving San Diego County


San Francisco Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service
301 Battery Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone: 415-989-1616
(TDD) 415-782-8985
FAX: 415-477-2389
Website: www.sfbar.org

Serving San Francisco County and Marin County


San Joaquin County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

20 North Sutter Street, #300
Stockton, CA 95202
Phone: 209-948-4620
FAX: 209-942-3832
Website: www.sjcbar.org

Serving San Joaquin County

333 Bradford Street, #200
Redwood City, CA 94063
Phone: 650-298-4030
FAX: 650-368-3892
Website: www.smcba.org

Serving San Mateo County and Santa Clara County


Santa Barbara County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
15 W. Carrillo Street, #106
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: 805-569-5511
FAX: 805-569-2888
e-mail: santabarbaralrs@gmail.com
Website: www.sblaw.org


Santa Clara County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
4 North Second Street, Suite 400
San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: 408-971-6822
FAX: 408-287-6083
Website: www.sccba.com

Serving Santa Clara County


Santa Cruz County Lawyer Referral Service
P.O. Box 1311
Santa Cruz, CA 95061-1311
Phone: 831-425-4755
FAX: 831-423-6202
e-mail: sccbar@sbcglobal.net
Website: www.lawyerreferralsantacruz.org

Serving Santa Cruz County


Solano County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
744 Empire Street, Suite 201
P.O. Box 3524
Fairfield, CA 94533
Phone: 707-422-0127
FAX: 707-422-3860
e-mail: scba@solanobar.org
Website: www.solanobar.org/LRS.htm

Serving Solano County

804 14th Street
Modesto, CA 95354
Phone: 209-571-5727
FAX: 209-529-6130
Website: www.stanbar.org/lawyer-referral-service

Serving Stanislaus County


Sonoma County Lawyer Referral Service
37 Old Courthouse Square
Sonoma, CA 95404
Phone: 707-546-5297 x12 or 707-542-1190 x12
FAX: 707-542-1195
e-mail: info@sonomacountybar.org
Website: www.sonomacountybar.org

Serving Sonoma County


Ventura County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
Serving Ventura County
4475 Market St Suite B.
Ventura, CA 93003
Phone: 805-650-7599
FAX: 805-650-8059
e-mail: bar@vcba.org
Website: www.vcba.org/membership/lawyer-referral-and-information-service

Serving Ventura County

City and Regional Bar Association Lawyer Referral Programs

Not all lawyer referral services are managed by county level bar associations in California. Many of these services are provided by city or regional bar associations. Visit the links below for more information on each service.



San Gabriel Valley Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
Serving Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County
1175 East Garvey Avenue
Covina, CA 91724-3618
Phone: 626-966-5530
FAX: 626-915-4755
e-mail: sgvlrs@earthlink.net
Website: www.sgvlawyer.org

Serving the City of Covina in the San Gabriel Valley, one of the principle valleys of Southern California, lying to the east of the City of Los Angeles. Also serving all of the surrounding areas of Los Angles County and San Bernardino County.



Palo Alto Area Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
405 Sherman Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Phone: 650-326-8322
FAX: 650-326-2218
e-mail: info@paaba.org
Website: www.paaba.org

Serving all of the City of Palo Alto, and the surrounding areas throughout San Mateo County and Santa Clara County

Northern California Lawyer Access
120 N. Auburn St., #214
Grass Valley, CA 95945
Phone: 530-272-5962
e-mail: nclawyeraccess@gmail.com
Website: http://www.norcallawyer.org/

Serving Butte County, Colusa County, Del Norte County, El Dorado County, Glenn County, Humboldt County, Lake County, Lassen County, Mendocino County, Modoc County, Nevada County, Placer County, Plumas County, Shasta County, Sierra County, Siskiyou County, Sutter County, Tehama County, Trinity County, Yuba County.



San Fernando Valley Bar Association Attorney Referral Service
5567 Reseda Blvd. Suite 200
Tarzana, CA 91356
Phone: 818-340-4529
FAX: 818-227-0499
Website: www.SFVBA.org

Serving San Fernando and Tarzana, CA, and the surrounding areas in Los Angeles County, including Ventura, and the San Fernando Valley, the Simi Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley


Beverly Hills Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service
9420 Wilshire Blvd. 2nd Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90212-3169
Phone: 310-601-2440
Website: www.bhba.org

Serving Beverly Hills, CA, and the surrounding areas of Los Angeles County


Glendale Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
P.O. Box 968
Glendale, CA 91209-0968
Phone: 818-956-1633
Website: www.glendalebar.com

Serving Glendale, CA, and the surrounding areas of Los Angeles, Burbank, and Pasadena

Long Beach Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
3515 Linden Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90807
Phone: 562-988-1122
FAX: 562-988-1155
e-mail: director@longbeachbar.com
Website: www.longbeachbar.org/pg14.cfm

Serving Long Beach and the surrounding areas of Los Angeles, California


Santa Monica Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service
854 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Phone: 310-581-5163
FAX: 310-581-5308
e-mail: smbaoffice@aol.com
Website: www.smba.net

Serving Santa Monica and the surrounding areas of Los Angeles County


Southeast District Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
12749 Norwalk Blvd., #107
Norwalk, CA 90650-8373
Phone: 562-868-6787; 888-861-4LAW
FAX: 562-864-7247
Website: www.sedba.org

Serving individuals with cases in the Ciy of Norwalk, CA, and the Southeast Judicial District of Los Angeles includes the Downey Courthouse, the Bellflower Courthouse, the Norwalk Courthouse and the Los Padrinos Juvenile Court. Also serving all of Los Angeles County


South Bay Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
2463 Torrance Blvd., Suite D
Torrance, CA 90501
Phone: 310-325-4200 x2
FAX: 310-787-8405
e-mail: lrs@southbaybar.org
Website: www.southbaybar.org

Serving the Torrance, CA, and South Bay, a region of the southwest peninsula of Los Angles County, CA.



Burbank Bar Association - Lawyer Referral Service of the Burbank Bar Association
2219 West Olive Avenue
#PMB 100-40
Burbank, CA 91506
Phone: 818-843-0931
Website: http://www.attorneyreferralburbank.com

Serving all of Burbank, CA, and the surrounding areas of Los Angeles

Miscellaneous Lawyer Referral Services in California

Not all Lawyer Referral Services are managed by county or city level bar associations. California also has various lawyer referral services focused on a particular practice area or type of legal problem.


All Lawyer Referral Services
Serving Los Angeles County, Orange County and San Diego County
1000Attorneys.com
26873 Sierra Highway, #237
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Phone:800-723-1391
FAX: 661-554-7079
e-mail: info@1000attorneys.com



AccessLegalGrind.com Lawyer Referral and Information Service
Serving Los Angeles County
2640 Lincoln Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Phone: 888-474-6352
FAX: 310-581-2880
e-mail: lg@legalgrind.com



AIDS Legal Referral Panel of the San Francisco Bay Area
Serving Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma
1663 Mission Street, #500
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: 415-701-1100
FAX: 415-701-1400



Attorney Search Network
16161 Ventura Blvd., #672
Encino, CA 91436
Phone: 800-215-1190
FAX: 818-817-0935
e-mail: director@getareferral.com

Serving Alameda County, Alpine County, Amador County, Calaveras County, Contra Costa County, El Dorado County, Fresno County, Kern County, Los Angeles County, Napa County, Orange County, Riverside County, Sacramento County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, San Francisco County, Santa Clara County, Solano County, Sonoma County, Tuolumne County, Ventura County, and Yolo County.



Barustors
P.O. Box 824
Benicia, CA 94510
Phone: N/A
e-mail: referral@barustors.com



Centro Legal Group Inc.
Serving Los Angeles County
7668 Telegraph Road
Commerce, CA 90040
Phone: 800-980-5992
e-mail: Info@centrolegalgroup.com



College Legal Clinic, Inc
Serving Orange County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County
Headquarters
1231 East Chapman Avenue
P.O. Box 3759
Fullerton, CA 92834-3759
Phone: 714-870-5757



Disability Rights Legal Center
Serving Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura
Loyola Law School
919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Phone: 213-736-1031
TTY/TDD 213-736-8310
FAX: 213-736-1428



Higher Legal
Serving Los Angeles County
1100 Glendon Ave., 17th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Phone: 1-800-210-2104
e-mail: info@higherlegal.com



Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center Lawyer Referral Service
1625 North Schrader Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: 323-993-7670
FAX: 323-308-4420
e-mail: legalservices@laglc.org



Orange County Legal Aid Lawyer Referral Service
Serving Los Angeles County and Orange County
2101 N. Tustin Avenue
Tustin, CA 92705
Phone: 714-571-5204
FAX: 714-571-5188



RepresentYou.com
Serving Los Angeles County and Santa Barbara County
Phone: 877-473-7968
FAX: 310-734-6745
e-mail: customerservice@representyou.com


Serving Sonoma County
30 Kawana Springs Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone: 707-525-1146


Sonoma County Legal Services Foundation Modest Means Program
1212 Fourth Street, Suite I
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone: 707-546-2924
FAX: 707-546-2964
e-mail: sclsf@sonic.net



California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform Lawyer Referral Service
650 Harrison Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: 800-474-1116
FAX: 415-777-2904
e-mail: LRS@canhr.org



California Lawyers for the Arts
Serving Sacramento, San Francisco, and Santa Monica
Building C, Room 255
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA 94123
Phone: 415-775-7200 x107
FAX: 415-775-1143
e-mail: sanfrancisco@calawyersforthearts.org



California Lawyers for the Arts Santa Monica
1641 18th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: 310-998-5590
FAX: 310-998-5594
e-mail: losangeles@calawyersforthearts.org


Additional Resources

The State Bar of California Certifies Lawyer Referral Services (LRS) - Visit the website for the State Bar of California to learn more about lawyer referral services within your city of county. Find a list of the services listed on the website or use the “search county programs” feature. You can also find the nearest LRS by calling the State Bar of California. The website answers frequently asked questions such as “What is a lawyer referral service?” and “How important is certification?”



Finding an Attorney in California

If you need to find an attorney in California, then consider the benefits of using a lawyer referral service sponsored by a local county-level or city-level bar association. These services screen the attorneys for their good standing with the bar and experience in a given practice area. Non-profit lawyer referral services in California have been helping individuals and businesses find a qualified attorney for generations.

Rules and Regulations of the State Bar of California Pertaining to Lawyer Referral Services Including Minimum Standards for a Lawyer Referral Service in California, Effective January 1, 1997 - Visit the website for the State Bar of California to find the rules governing lawyer referral services. Rad more about the definition of a lawyer referral service, the purposes of the services, and eligibility requirements of panel attorneys. Find the forms for application for certification to operate a lawyer referral service. The rules regulate the fees charged by a lawyer referral service in California.

Rule 4 for the Definition of a Lawyer Referral Service provides that the term means an individual, partnership, corporation, association, or any other entity, or a service or agency of an entity, which operates for the direct or indirect purpose of referring potential clients to lawyers, whether or not the term “referral service” is used. This definition shall not apply to those entities or persons excepted by Business & Professional Code Section 6155, subdivision (c) and (h).

Rules for Lawyer Referral Services in California - Visit the website for the California Bar to find the rules governing the regulation of lawyer referral services including TITLE 3. PROGRAMS AND SERVICES Division 5. Providers of Programs and Services Chapter 3 on Lawyer Referral Services. Find the requirements for certification, the application, fees, the issuance of certification, audits, suspension of certification, and panel membership fees. The rules for publicity of the services must indicate that the purpose of the lawyer referral service is to serve its community and improve the quality and affordability of legal services as required by the rules.



Rules of Lawyer Referral Services in California


TITLE 3. PROGRAMS AND SERVICES

Division 5. Providers of Programs and Services


Chapter 3. Lawyer Referral Services

Article 1. Certification


Rule 3.800  Certification required

An individual or organization that refers prospective clients to attorneys must comply with minimum standards and be certified by the State Bar of California as a lawyer referral service unless exempt by law. See Business & Professions Code § 6155. See also California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1-600, Legal Service Programs. These rules set forth the minimum standards and certification requirements.

Rule 3.800 adopted as Rule 3.700 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.800 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.
 


Rule 3.801  Application for certification

(A) To initiate or continue certification, a lawyer referral service must submit an Application for Certification as a Lawyer Referral Service and a separate application fee for each county in which it operates. The State Bar may waive the separate application requirement for a lawyer referral service operating in more than one county on written request supported by evidence and for good cause.

(B) Notwithstanding provision (A), a lawyer referral service operating in two or more counties defined by the State Bar as underserved is required to submit only one application and one application fee to initiate or continue certification.

(C) Every application must include panel membership criteria, including criteria for suspension and removal that provide for written notice and review with an opportunity to respond.

(D) An application for initial certification may be submitted at any time. An application for continuance of certification must be submitted with the annual report required by Rule 3.828. Within a reasonable time, the State Bar will notify an applicant that certification has been granted or denied or that an application is incomplete or noncompliant.

(E) An application must be completed in accordance with application instructions and filed with any required fee.

Rule 3.801 adopted as Rule 3.701 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.801 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.802  Application fees

(A) Application fees for initial and continued certification, which are set forth in the Schedule of Charges and Deadlines, depend on the number of counties in which a service operates and whether a service is non-profit or for-profit. Application fees may not exceed $10,000 or one percent of gross annual revenues, whichever is less. See Business & Professions Code § 6155(f)(4).

(B) An application fee not received by the deadline is subject to the late penalty set forth in the Schedule of Charges and Deadlines. If the fee and penalty are not received within thirty days of the deadline, certification may be suspended and the lawyer referral service must cease any activity subject to these rules.

(C) Fifty percent of an initial application fee is refundable if an applicant submits a written request to withdraw the application within twenty days of submitting it. An application fee is otherwise not refundable.

(D) An application or late fee for continued certification may be waived or reduced because of demonstrated financial necessity as evidenced by gross annual revenues, panel size, geographic area served, length of time in operation, or the like.

Rule 3.802 adopted as Rule 3.702 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.802 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.803  Denial of application

(A) An application for initial certification that fails to comply with these rules is denied in a written notice explaining the denial.

(1) Upon receipt of a notice of denial, an initial applicant may submit a written request for reconsideration within thirty days of the date of the notice. The request must explain why the application was compliant and be supported by any relevant evidence.

(2) Within sixty days of receiving a request for reconsideration of denial, the State Bar may grant certification or confirm denial of the initial application. If the denial is confirmed, the applicant may submit a petition for review to the State Bar Court in accordance with its rules.

(3) Denial of an application for initial certification does not preclude an applicant from submitting a new application. A new application must be submitted in accordance with application instructions and with the fee set forth in the Schedule of Charges and Deadlines.

(B) An application for continued certification that fails to comply with these rules subjects a lawyer referral service to suspension or revocation pursuant to rule 3.806.

Rule 3.803 adopted as Rule 3.703 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.803 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014. 


Rule 3.804  Issuance of certification

The State Bar may grant certification with or without conditions for two years or a shorter time specified by the State Bar. Certification terminates at the end of the certification period unless renewed in accordance with these rules.

Rule 3.804 adopted as Rule 3.704 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.804 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.805  Audits

Before granting or continuing certification, waiving an application fee, or at any other time, the State Bar may conduct an audit to determine whether a lawyer referral service has complied with these rules. Any audit must be at the expense of the lawyer referral service.

Rule 3.805 adopted as Rule 3.705 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.805 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.806  Suspension or revocation of certification. See Business & Professions Code § 6155(g).

(A) The State Bar may suspend or revoke certification of a lawyer referral service for failure to comply with these rules or for other good cause.

(B) A lawyer referral service is entitled to notice of intention to suspend or revoke certification that states the reasons for the State Bar’s action.

(C) A lawyer referral service may file a written request for review of suspension or revocation of certification within thirty days of receipt of the notice. The request must explain why the action was inappropriate and be supported by any relevant evidence. Failure to request review results in final suspension or revocation of certification.

(D) The State Bar must respond to a request for review that meets the requirements of these rules within sixty days of filing and give the lawyer referral service an opportunity to support the request. The State Bar may then continue, suspend, or revoke certification with or without conditions as it deems appropriate. The State Bar must provide the lawyer referral service a written statement of the reasons for its determination.

(E) Within thirty days of receipt of the notice of suspension or revocation, the lawyer referral service may submit a petition for review to the State Bar Court in accordance with its rules. Certification is suspended or revoked for failure to submit a timely petition for review of suspension or revocation.

(F) Pending review of a denial to continue certification, certification remains in effect unless the State Bar suspends or revokes it.

(G) When suspension or revocation of certification is final, a lawyer referral service must immediately cease any activity subject to these rules, and the State Bar must notify every panel member of the lawyer referral service that certification has been suspended or revoked.

Rule 3.806 adopted as Rule 3.706 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.806 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.807  Complaints about a lawyer referral service

(A) The State Bar must review a complaint about a lawyer referral service submitted pursuant to these rules (Rule 3.820(E)) within a reasonable time and

(1) if the complaint demonstrates an apparent violation of these rules or other authority provide the service written notice of the complaint and an opportunity to respond; and

(2) provide written notice to the complainant regarding what action, if any, it deems appropriate.

(B) A complaint and investigations related to it are the property of the State Bar and remain confidential until final suspension or revocation of certification or a proceeding is initiated in State Bar Court, whichever is earlier.

Rule 3.807 adopted as Rule 3.707 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.807 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.808  Notice

In these rules, a notice or other document is deemed received the fifth day after being sent by first-class mail or upon actual receipt when delivered otherwise.

Rule 3.808 adopted as Rule 3.708 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.808 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Article 2.  Minimum standards for lawyer referral services


Rule 3.820  General duties of a lawyer referral service

A lawyer referral service must

(A) have a governing committee; one or more panels of attorneys to provide legal services; and a staff to evaluate and process requests for legal assistance;

(B) encourage widespread attorney membership (Business & Professions Code § 6155(f)(1));

(C) serve its community and improve the quality and affordability of legal services by

(1) assisting those in need of legal services to find a qualified, insured attorney or other appropriate legal services, including dispute resolution;

(2) providing the public with general information about appropriate legal  services; and

(3) establishing services for persons of limited means unless it demonstrates that doing so is unreasonable or impractical given the community needs; its financial resources, staff size, or panel membership; the fees charged by its panel members; or the availability of pro bono or other legal services for persons of limited means;

(D) charge no fee or combination of fees that increase a client’s cost beyond that normally charged for legal services or that decrease the quantity or quality of services otherwise available to the client (Business & Professions Code § 6155(a)(2));

(E) tell each client how to submit a complaint about the service or one of its panel members and inform the client that an unresolved complaint may be submitted to the State Bar, provided it is in writing and supported by factual information that demonstrates a violation of these rules or other applicable authority;

(F) if non-profit use its income only to pay reasonable operating expenses and to fund its pro bono, legal services, and other public service programs;

(G) fully cooperate with any State Bar audit (See Rule 3.805.);

(H) provide each panel member a copy of these rules; and

(I) at all times comply with these rules and applicable law.

Rule 3.820 adopted as Rule 3.720 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.820 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.821  Ownership (Business & Professions Code § 6155(b).)

A lawyer referral service owned or operated by a bar association is deemed to be owned or operated by its governing committee. An attorney may not directly or indirectly own or operate a lawyer referral service if the attorney individually or jointly receives more than twenty percent of the referrals of the lawyer referral service.

Rule 3.821 adopted as Rule 3.721 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.821 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.822  Governing committee

(A) A lawyer referral service must be supervised by a governing committee of three or more members. A majority of the governing committee must be active members of the State Bar. No more than half the members of the governing committee may receive referrals from the lawyer referral service.

(B) The governing committee must

(1) establish criteria for subject matter and general panel membership and use the criteria to evaluate panel members at least once every two years;

(2) establish and assess compliance with the referral procedures required by these rules (Rule 3.826);

(3) review and submit the annual report required by these rules (Rule 3.828);

(4) annually survey a random sample of at least ten percent of the clients of the service to determine client satisfaction with services and fees;

(5) on the basis of the annual survey, make any operational changes it deems necessary; and

(6) meet at least quarterly.

Rule 3.822 adopted as Rule 3.722 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.822 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.823  Panels

(A) A lawyer referral service must establish panels of attorney members qualified to provide legal services to the public. The panels must be organized by subject matter but may include a general panel.  A lawyer referral service is encouraged to establish moderate and no-fee panels and other special panels that respond to the needs of the public.

(B) At least twenty attorney members, ten of whom are from separate and independent law firms, are required for all lawyer referral services, and each panel must have at least four members. The State Bar may waive these minimum requirements if a lawyer referral service operates in an underserved county or provides written evidence that the size of the community or the number of its attorneys warrants a lesser number.

(C) A lawyer referral service must require that each panel member

(1) have errors and omissions insurance in the amounts set forth in the Schedule of Charges and Deadlines and provide proof of insurance to the State Bar upon request (Business & Professions Code 6155(f)(6));

(2) not receive referrals evaluated and processed by a lawyer referral service staff member employed or otherwise compensated by the panel attorney;

(3) agree in writing to submit any fee dispute to mandatory arbitration compliant with statute or State Bar requirements upon election of a client referred by the lawyer referral service. See Business & Professions Code § 6200 et seq.

(D) A lawyer referral service may disclose a panel member’s past performance when the information is accurate, complete, and not misleading.

Rule 3.823 adopted as Rule 3.723 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.823 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.824  Eligibility for membership

(A) Only an active member of the State Bar practicing in the community served by the lawyer referral service may be a member of the service. To serve on a subject matter panel, such a member must meet the experience and other substantial and objective criteria of the lawyer referral service. Certification as a legal specialist qualifies an attorney to serve on a panel that deals with the area of certification, provided the attorney meets other criteria for panel membership.

B) Panel membership may not be contingent upon membership in a sponsoring entity.

Rule 3.824 adopted as Rule 3.724 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.824 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.825  Panel membership fees

(A) Panel membership fees must be reasonable, encourage widespread panel membership, and otherwise comply with these rules and applicable law. Business & Professions Code § 6155(f)(1). See Rule 3.820(B).

(B) Panel membership fees may not in any way be based on or guarantee contacts, calls, cases, referrals, or clients.

(C) Panel members who are not members of a sponsoring entity may be required to pay a nominal charge for administrative services.

Rule 3.825 adopted as Rule 3.725 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.825 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.826  Referrals

(A) The governing committee of a lawyer referral service must establish fair and impartial procedures to assure that referrals are allocated equitably to panel members and respond insofar as possible to clients’ legal needs and other circumstances, such as geographic convenience and language issues.

(B) All referrals in a geographical area may not be made to a single attorney or law firm. The State Bar may deny certification or recertification for failure to make referrals fairly and impartially to panel members or to maintain current and complete records of referrals.

(C) A referral may not

(1) discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, marital status, political affiliation, or veteran status;

(2) violate restrictions against unlawful solicitation and false and misleading advertising or otherwise violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or law applicable to a member of the State Bar;

(3) be made directly or indirectly by a person employed or otherwise compensated by an attorney or firm to whom the referral is made; or

(4) be made exclusively by technological means without staff evaluation of client needs and panel members’ qualifications. Business & Professions Code § 6155(h)(2).

Rule 3.826 adopted as Rule 3.726 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.826 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.827  Records

(A) A lawyer referral service must maintain and provide to the State Bar upon request current records for

(1) each panel member that include

(a) name, contact information, and qualifications;

(b) number and type of referrals; and

(c) fees remitted for membership, referrals or consultations, advertising; or any other reason; and

(2) each referral that include

(a) the client’s name and contact information;

(b) type of matter and date of referral; and

(c) panel member to whom the referral was made.

(B) Any record in the possession of the State Bar pertaining to a lawyer referral service is the property of the State Bar and confidential unless authorized for disclosure by these rules, order of the Board of Trustees, or consent of the lawyer referral service.

Rule 3.827 adopted as Rule 3.727 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.827 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.828  Annual report

(A) The governing committee of a lawyer referral service must submit an annual report of its activities and those of the lawyer referral service. The report must at a minimum

(1) provide a detailed accounting of

(a) all sources and amounts of income, expenses, and reserves during the reporting period;

(b) the disposition of any reserves or surpluses derived from activities of the service during the reporting period and the immediately preceding reporting period;

(2) include statistics derived from the records the service is required to maintain; and

(3) summarize the annual client survey and any operational changes it prompted. Rule 3.822(B)(4) and (5).

(B) Failure to submit an annual report on time suspends certification unless the State Bar extends the report deadline for good cause.

Rule 3.828 adopted as Rule 3.728 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.828 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014.


Rule 3.829  Publicity

(A) Publicity, which includes advertising or any other kind of promotional material, must

(1) indicate that the purpose of the lawyer referral service is to serve its community and improve the quality and affordability of legal services as required by these rules (See Rule 3.820(C)); and

(2) acknowledge any sponsorship by the lawyer referral service; identify the counties in which the service operates; and provide the State Bar certification number or certification mark.

(B) Any publicity by a lawyer referral service must comply with the California Rules of Professional Conduct and any other legal requirements.

(C) A copy of any publicity

(1) must be submitted with an application for certification or recertification; and

(2) may be required with the annual report. Rule 3.828.

Rule 3.829 adopted as Rule 3.729 January 7, 2011; renumbered as Rule 3.829 November 4, 2011; approved by the Supreme Court effective January 21, 2014. Amended March 7, 2014; amendment approved by the Supreme Court effective December 1, 2014.


This article was last updated on Friday, March 3, 2017.