Other Voices: Lawyer Referral Service: a valuable resource in Nevada, Placer counties
Many residents of Nevada and Placer counties are unaware of the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), operated by Northern California Lawyer Access Inc. (NCLA).
LRS was begun in Nevada County in 1980. Since then, customer surveys reveal an extremely high rate of client satisfaction with the referral service. The LRS is the primary lawyer referral agency for Northern California, certified by the State Bar.
LRS exists to provide access to legal services. Pres-ently there is an access-to- justice crisis where even middle-class folks have trouble finding affordable representation and many people end up in court representing themselves. Many people cannot afford to pay the fees for full legal representation; others have difficulty locating an attorney qualified to serve their needs.
LRS strives to match those in need of representation, advice, information or document preparation with skilled attorneys who offer a non-charge consultation, and who may offer further services including limited scope representation at a reduced cost. LRS also provides free information about the availability of alternate dispute resolution services (ADR), and legal resources such as the Small Claims Court, the Public Law Center and the Family Law Facilitator.
The costs to clients for arranging an initial consultation is $35. There is no cost to the client beyond this for the initial consultation of one-half hour with an attorney. If the client is unable to pay, the LRS Board may waive the fee upon completion of a standard form declaring financial hardship. After the consultation, if a client wishes to retain the attorney for further services, fee arrangements are determined solely between the client and the attorney.
LRS provides clients contact with attorneys who are qualified and experienced in the appropriate area of law. All panel attorneys are members of the California State Bar Association and either the Nevada County or Placer County Bar Association.
Each attorney is screened to ensure they have had no disciplinary action that would affect the quality of representation, and all certify they carry malpractice insurance or insurance through the organization.
The organization is ad-ministered by a Board of Dir- ectors which meets monthly. Attorneys join the LRS by certifying their qualifications in their area(s) of practice, completing an application and agreement to comply with rules and law, and paying an annual membership fee. Participating attorneys return to LRS a portion of any fees paid by clients to help support legal services operations of the LRS and NCLA.
The organization refers clients in most areas of law including bankruptcy, business, conservatorships, contract law, domestic violence, guardianships, estate planning, elder law, family law, general-civil litigation, immigration, labor and employment law, landlord and tenant, probate law, personal injury, real estate and social security.
The Nevada County main office is located at 120 N. Auburn St., Ste. 124, Grass Valley, and the Placer County office is located at 10556 Combie Rd., Auburn. The main office is manned by an administrator, administrative assistant and a number of volunteers who contribute their time to see that the services are provided to the general public. The hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
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