Tips for Young Lawyers

The Benefits of Referral Service Membership

April 12,2010

These days it seems that getting — and keeping — a job is at the forefront of many people's minds. The recession has affected industries coast to coast and professions of all types. The legal world is no exception. Many young lawyers face limited career opportunities post-graduation, come from firms forced to down-size, or simply have a desire to hang out their own shingle, leaving them with the responsibility of generating a client base.

In 1972, the State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS) was established with a mission to act as a resource for attorneys and aid the public. It provides fee-generating cases, opportunities for service and client development for its members. The LRIS serves over 240 counties statewide and receives approximately 80,000 calls each year.

Given the number of referrals made, the minimal annual fee of membership is an attractive component of the LRIS. As stated by Lisa Richardson, a partner in Richardson & Cechura, PLLC in Round Rock, “LRIS provides an excellent opportunity for lawyers to build an expansive client base without the need to incur the large costs for advertising expenses.”

The LRIS strives to make all aspects of participation in the service beneficial and seamless. In September 2009, it established an online referral system, in addition to its call center, and has seen an increase in the number of referrals made. In late-spring of 2010 the LRIS will launch its online management component, which will allow LRIS members to manage their referred cases and membership through the State Bar website with a few clicks of the mouse.

“The LRIS referral process is very efficient, easy and streamlined. The process is constantly improving from providing better pre-screening to the way they communicate referrals. LRIS has been a great source of referrals, and I'm certain it will be a significant source of business for our firm in the future,” says Richardson.

In 2008, LRIS attorneys grossed approximately $1.3 million from cases referred to them through the service. Yet, more important than the income generated are the possibilities that come from assisting a myriad of public citizens with their legal needs. Many individuals become recurring clients, refer their friends, or simply come to see attorneys in an improved light.

In relaying an experience with a former LRIS referral, Richardson spoke about a client that came to the State Bar after a negative experience with a previous attorney. “I agreed to represent her, but I must admit I was nervous given how angry she was at attorneys in general. We got off to a rocky start, but by the end of her divorce she was happy with her settlement and her representation. Since this client called the State Bar for help and LRIS for a referral, it was an opportunity for the State Bar to change the image this client had of attorneys and for an attorney to have an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life.” 

The State Bar LRIS strives to continue providing positive experiences for both the public and the attorneys it serves. In April and May 2010, young lawyers have the opportunity to try the LRIS and see how it benefits their practice. Young lawyers not currently members of the LRIS can participate in the service on a six month trial basis for a $60 fee. After six months, attorneys may re-join at the annual membership renewal fee of $125 and receive membership through the end of December 2011.

For further information regarding the LRIS, contact Denny Gee, LRIS Director at