Gregory LisiAt a time when the economy is spiraling down, advertising is becoming more expensive, and clients are becoming harder to acquire, the question I hear on most attorneys’ lips is, “How do I find more clients?” Many attorneys are turning to internet advertising, or increasing their presence in the yellow pages or newspapers. Some are trying radio or television advertising, or examining print advertisements in ethnic newspapers. Some are flying around the country to industry functions or insurance conventions to meet with potential clients.
All of these are viable options, but all of these cost thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars per year. Everyone is complaining about these costs but see little alternative. However, there is an option right here in our own back yard, which any member of the Nassau County Bar Association has access to, but far too few are taking advantage of – the Lawyer Referral Information Service. The Lawyer Referral Service receives approximately 250 inquires per week from the general public and other attorneys. However, there are currently only 350 members of the Bar Association on the panels. This amazing discrepancy has allowed a small percentage of the Nassau County Bar Association, less than 10% of the almost 6,000 members of the country’s largest suburban bar association, to reap the benefits of this wonderful program.
Two trained staff, Pat Carbonaro and Carolyn Bonino, serve as the “matchmakers” between attorneys and potential new clients. They screen all calls to decide which panel is best for the caller’s matter. They then give the potential client two names of attorneys on that panel to contact. This way the person is directed to an attorney who has knowledge in the area they seek and the attorney gets a potential client who is specifically looking for someone to handle a problem in their area of concentration. The attorneys agree to charge a nominal fee for the first 30 minutes of consultation. Thereafter, the Lawyer Referral Information Service steps out of the attorney/client relationship.
When I first became chair of the Lawyer Referral Committee, I was astonished to hear how few attorneys were members of the panels. I personally have been in LRIS for 15 years and knew it to be a wonderful program and a great bargain. I began to ask other members why they were not a member of the panels. The most common answer I received was, “Why would the Lawyer Referral Service have any better luck getting clients then an attorney advertisement on the internet or in the yellow pages? I already advertise there, why should I pay for this?”
Five Reasons to Join LRIS First, the Lawyer Referral Service is available through the Nassau County Bar Association, which gives it instant credibility and trustworthiness. Second, not only does the Lawyer Referral Service have a presence in the Yellow Pages and on Google, but we just received permission to place signs up in the Nassau County Courts, something that no one else will be able to do. These signs should be up at every courthouse in Nassau County very shortly. Third, 250 referrals a week shows that people need good quality legal assistance and are calling the Nassau Bar Association to provide it. Fourth, it is not only the general public who calls the Service. As Pat Carbonaro notes, “Many times I receive calls from attorneys looking for another attorney who handles an area of law they do not.” Lastly, at $250-$400 total for the year (depending upon which panels you join), if you get one client, you will have paid for this service many times over. As a special bonus to newer attorneys who have been practicing for five years or less, LRIS fees are discounted by 33%.
We belong to a wonderful Bar Association that gives us tremendous benefits. In these trying times, getting clients may be the most important benefit of all. If you are an attorney who needs more clients, or just have questions, contact Pat Carbonaro at (516) 747-4070 x 219.
Gregory S. Lisi, Esq. is chair of the Lawyer Referral Committee and a former member of the Board of Directors. His office is in Rockville Centre, where he concentrates on Labor and Employment Law, Real Estate and Immigration.
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