Lawyer Referral: When One Door Closes

In July 2014 the Marin County Bar Association (MCBA) made the difficult decision to close its Lawyer Referral Service (LRS). Closing the Marin LRS would leave a vacuum of affordable, competent legal services in Marin County and a loss of potential clients for the Marin Panel members.

Recognizing this dilemma ,the President of the MCBA contacted The Bar Association of San Francisco to see if there was a way to incorporate the Marin LRS into BASF’s robust Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS). Indeed there was. LRIS Director of Public Service Programs Carole Conn and LRIS Committee Chair David Otsuka met with members of the Marin LRS, MCBA board, and MCBA president to discuss how to create a Marin Panel within BASF’s LRIS. Thus was born the SF-Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service.

Attorney Richard Helzberg

Attorney Richard Helzberg

Attorney Richard Helzberg was a member of the Marin County LRS and chose to join the SF-Marin LRIS. A family law attorney practicing since 1976, Helzberg brought knowledge and experience to the Marin Panel. Recently Helzberg reached out to relate his experience thus far:

“I joined the SF-Marin Lawyer Referral and Information Service after being on the committee of Marin County Lawyer Referral for over 20 years, and for several years acted as its chair. I was quite disappointed when our bar association decided to shut down a service to the public and frankly was skeptical as to what the experience might be with LRIS. But nonetheless I was curious. Annually it seems, I have a slow period, so I figured why not give BASF’s LRIS a shot?

I’m delighted. The staff is professional and polite, and easy to work with. The quality of those referred is good, certainly better than my prior experience. The required paperwork and fees are both completely reasonable. The experience of dealing with different types of clients in the consultation is really enjoyable.”

Part of the LRIS mission is to modify and expand capabilities in order to best serve those who need legal assistance. Marin County has a population of a little over 250,000 according to the 2015 census and approximately 12.8% of residents consider Spanish to be their primary language. In furtherance of the mission, LRIS would like to expand its availability to serve the residents of Marin County.

If you or a colleague have an office in Marin County and are a Spanish speaker please contact us. LRIS membership applications are available on our website at www.sfbar.org/forms/lawyerreferrals/marin_attorney_application_and_agreement.pdf or by contacting LRIS Membership Coordinator Yvonne Ng at yng@sfbar.org