Ravi Hira, QC of Watson Goepel Maledy LLP believes that lawyers of any age, at any point in their career, can benefit from participating in the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS). In operation since 1955, the LRS is designed to encourage members of the public to meet with a lawyer if they find themselves in a situation where access to legal expertise might be beneficial or necessary. Lawyers registered in the LRS agree to provide a consultation of up to 30 minutes for a nominal fee of $25.
Ravi says “the larger downtown law firms can also subscribe to the Lawyer Referral Service and I know a very senior partner of a downtown law firm who gets referrals in the tax area and is able to assist the public.” First introduced to the service by his wife (The Honourable Judge Thérèse Alexander), Ravi has been involved in the program for more than 15 years and sees the service as an ideal way “to introduce the public to lawyers and give them access to legal services.”
LRS operators receive initial telephone inquiries, determine the nature of the caller’s legal problem and provide the name of a lawyer in the caller’s community. The lawyer is then notified of the referral. It is the caller’s responsibility to arrange a suitable appointment time with the appropriate lawyer. The LRS receives about 60,000 inquiries each year and makes more than 33,000 referrals. A significant number of calls to the service result in billable activity. Ravi Hira describes the program as “an opportunity to meet potential clients, to help people, and to develop clients – it’s a win-win situation.”
The LRS, which is funded by the Law Foundation of B.C., is a key program of the Canadian Bar Association B.C. Branch. It works to connect the profession with the general public while breaking down barriers that can impede access to justice. Ravi says that the LRS is a “CBABC program that greatly benefits the Bar and is a prime example of why all lawyers should support a strong and vibrant association.”
To enroll in the LRS please visit www.cba.org/BC/Initiatives/main/lawyer_referral.aspx, download an application form and fax the completed form to 604-669-9601 or toll free 1-877-669-9601.
Contact the LRS in the Lower Mainland by calling 604-687-3221 or outside the Lower Mainland at 1-800-663-1919 (B.C. access only).
This article was published in the August 2007 issue of BarTalk. © 2007 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.