Legal Services

A lawyer referral service maintains a network of lawyers, and connects people in need of lawyers with its participating attorneys. A potential client who contacts a lawyer referral service is directed to a lawyer who practices in the area of law that is most appropriate for their situation. Some lawyer referral services charge a fee for providing a referral, while others provide referrals at no cost to the prospective client. Many referral services connect prospective clients with lawyers who have agreed to provide a low-cost or free initial consultation. • Referral services are often provided by state and local bar associations as a public service. • Referral services may also be offered by non-profit organizations and advocacy groups. • For-profit referral services may connect lawyers with clients who pay a membership fee, or a fee for successfully referred clients, subject to rules against sharing fees with non-lawyers. Ethical issues may arise for lawyers who participate in for-profit referral services, and state rules governing participation can vary significantly. Some referral services provide referrals to lawyers in a broad range of areas of legal practice. Others may focus on referrals within a narrow range of practice areas, or a single practice area. If a client is unable to afford a lawyer and the legal problem is not a matter that can be handled by a lawyer on a percentage fee basis, the client may be connected with a pro bono lawyer, or directed to contact a legal aid organization or law student clinic for help. Some referral services are certified by bar associations, including the American Bar Association. Certified referral services must maintain standards of service as defined by the certifying organization. Among those standards, certification may require that participating lawyers meet minimum standards of experience, or maintain legal malpractice insurance. The American Bar Association provides a list attorney referral services that meet its certification requirements.

A law firm is a business entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in the practice of law. The primary service rendered by a law firm is to advise clients (individuals or corporations) about their legal rights and responsibilities, and to represent clients in civil or criminal cases, business transactions, and other matters in which legal advice and other assistance are sought.

The term civil litigation refers to a legal dispute between two or more parties that seek money damages or specific performance rather than criminal sanctions. A lawyer who specializes in civil litigation is known as a litigator or trial lawyer. Lawyers who practice civil litigation represent parties in trials, arbitrations and mediations before administrative agencies, foreign tribunals, and federal, state, and local courts. Several common types of civil litigation include environmental law, housing law, products liability, intellectual property, labor and employment, and antitrust. - Harvard Law School

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