July 1, 2012
KCBA Lawyer Referral Service Policies and Procedures
The King County Bar Association is the only ABA certified referral service in the state of Washington. All rules and procedures fall within the scope of the US Supreme Court model rules for LRS.
The Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) of the King County Bar Association exists to provide legal referrals for
members of the public to qualified attorneys.The LRS works with other legal service organizations to provide a
comprehensive system of information and service.
The LRS is managed by
the LRS Committee appointed by the President of the Board, and the Lawyer
Referral Manager. Operational
responsibility is delegated to LRS staff that screen potential clients and make
referrals to panel attorneys when appropriate.
All communications between LRS staff and panel attorneys or clients is
treated as attorney client privilege. Such
communication will not be divulged to anyone outside LRS without the express
written consent of the client, except to an attorney member of the LRS or a
special legal program of the King County Bar Association in furtherance of
order to be a member of the LRS, an attorney must:
- Be a
member of WSBA in good standing, or,
in the case of attorneys practicing exclusively Immigration Law, be a member of
any state bar in good standing.
- Certain subject matter panels have basic
experience requirements for panel membership.
Members must complete an experience
form to show they meet the requirements for those panels. Experience standards are set by the LRS Committee
which is appointed by the King County Bar Association Board.
Have professional office availability for client meetings, conferences, receipt of
service and other formal contacts. If the panel member uses a home office exclusively, it must have a separate entrance
for clients, unless otherwise approved.
- Agree to abide by the rules and procedures of the LRS.
- Have not been removed from the panel within
the previous six months, pursuant to Section VI of these rules.
- Maintain an errors and omissions liability
insurance policy in the amount of at least $200,000 each occurrence and
$500,000 aggregate. A copy of the
declarations page must be provided to the LRS.
- Remit the annual registration fee and
registration form and updated proof of insurance in a timely fashion. The
registration fee is $200 for KCBA members and $425 for nonmembers. Failure
to submit updated proof of insurance or timely renewal will result in
deactivation from the panels.
- New registrants for the LRS panel may be
interviewed by the LRS Director or an LRS Committee member prior to activation
on the panel. This interview shall occur
at the panel member’s office.
- Membership is limited to 5 of the major areas of
practice in the “specific experience required” section. 3 Are may be selected from the “limited
- Referrals are made on a rotating basis within
subject matter panels, with consideration of the nature of the client’s case
and geographical location. Only one
referral will be given to a client at a time, with the exception of unbundled
- If the panel member will be unavailable for
more than a week, LRS should be notified and the panel member will be placed on inactive status
for the period of unavailability.
intake staff will screen the client to determine the nature of the client’s issue
and if appropriate make a referral. Intake staff are not attorneys and cannot
make decisions about the merits of a case.
A $45 referral fee will be charged prior to
making the referral for all cases with the exception of: SSI/SSDI, criminal
defense, worker’s compensation and plaintiffs’ personal injury. An administrative fee may be implemented for criminal
defense, worker’s compensation and plaintiffs’ personal injury upon approval of
the Executive Director and/or the Board of Directors. The administrative fee may be waived,
on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the LRS Manager.
- Referrals are made without regard to race,
color, creed, national origin, sex, age, religion, sexual preference, or actual
or perceived disability of either the client or the attorney.
- Random client satisfaction questionnaires
will be mailed periodically to evaluate the service provided by the LRS staff
and panel attorneys.
- Quarterly case questionnaire statements will
be sent to panel members for all cases shown as pending and any fees paid to
date according to the LRS database.
Questionnaires shall be updated and returned to the LRS within 30 days.
Panel Member Responsibilities.
- The panel member shall personally meet with
the referred client for a half-hour consultation without charge.
- The panel member shall personally arrange for
any further services.
If the client retains the panel member, the
member shall establish a written fee agreement in advance of performing
services beyond the first half-hour consultation.
If the panel member is unable to accept a
referred case, the client must be referred back to the LRS for further referral. An email should be sent to the LRS program
specifying why the case cannot be accepted (different area than referred for,
conflict, etc). This will significantly
help the LRS staff improve the quality of referrals. If a referral is made to a
panel member in error, or the case is found to not be meritorious, the panel
member may be restored to her/his place on the rotation.
panel member shall return the referral confirmation and quarterly statements to
LRS within 30 days of receipt. If statements are two quarters delinquent, the
attorney will be inactivated until all statements are brought current.
Client referrals are made to individual
lawyers, not law firms. The panel attorney is responsible to assure the case
status questionnaires and fee share payments are submitted to the LRS program
in a timely manner.
If a panel attorney terminates practice or leaves a firm, the case remains the
responsibility of the assigned panel attorney.
A client may not be referred to another member of a firm, even if that
lawyer is a member of the LRS program. If
the attorney is not in a position to retain the case, the attorney must contact
the LRS Manager to determine the best option for the client.
For cases referred on or after July 1, 2012
, the panel attorney shall remit to LRS 14% of the total (net) attorney fees collected by
that attorney or his/her firm from LRS clients, which arise out of the subject
matter of the original referral, as follows:
- The fee share for cases where fees are $1000
and above, will be remitted according to the tiered fee structure as follows:
For fees of $1,000 - $24,999, the fee share is 14%. For fees of $25,000 and above, the fee share is
20% (on the amount of $25,000 and above only). If the client is paying in installments, the
fee share may be submitted periodically or when the fees are paid in full. (See V.F.3 for special rules for the Early
attorney fees are $1000 and above, the fee share is due on the entire fee, including
that collected by other attorneys associated in the matter by the LRS panel
attorney. When the total amount of attorney fees is
less than $1000, the fee share is zero.
- For cases referred to Early Mediation panel
members, where the reduced fee of $100/hour is charged, 5% is due on all fees
collected. For matters charged at a
regular fee, 14% and 20% fee share is due as set forth above.
- The panel member is personally liable for the
- The attorney should inform the client about
the attorney’s fee-sharing agreement and administrative process with the LRS,
and include in the written fee agreement or engagement letter for LRS referred
clients language that indicates the client’s understanding and consent to such
agreement. (see last page of document
If the subject matter of the original
referral expands into a class action, the same tierd fee sharing structure shall be in effect.
referred prior to July 1, 2012,
shall remit a fee share of 10% of total fees, if fees are $300 or above. If
fees are $299 or below, no fee share is required.
settlement agreement is sealed, the confidential nature of the settlement must
be clearly stated on the paperwork submitted with the LRS fee share.
panel member shall not charge any additional fees or increase the fee for the
purpose of compensating for any amount due LRS.
The client remains an LRS referral client for
the duration of the matter referred, even if the attorney leaves the LRS
panel. If a client later brings a
different matter to the attorney, that matter is not subject to the LRS fee
panel member shall treat the LRS-referred client with the same attention and
respect as any other client.
The panel member may contact client by letter or
phone, indicating that his/her name has been referred from LRS and giving
instructions on how to make an appointment pursuant to RPC 7.3(a).
If a panel member receives a regular referral
and wishes to provide representation on a reduced-fee basis, prior written approval must be obtained from
the LRS Manager in order to have the standared fee share reduced or waived.
The panel member must inform LRS of any
disciplinary matters pending before the WSBA or other state or federal
Panel members must provide the name and phone
number of the / an attorney designated to take over you cases in the event that
you become unable to continue practicing. (see section on LRS Application /
Rejection, Suspension, or Removal from Panel.
Committee may reject an attorney’s application for panel membership or suspend
or remove an attorney for any of the following reasons:
- One or more complaints substantiated by a
preponderance of the evidence showing violation of the Rules of Professional
- One or more complaints substantiated by a
preponderance of the evidence involving failure to perform promised work,
failure to communicate case status, rudeness towards clients, or actions that are discriminatory.
- The membership or the continued membership of
the attorney is likely to bring discredit or disfavor on, or otherwise adversely
affect, LRS. Professional discipline, short of suspension
or disbarment, shall be considered as to the attorney’s continued membership in
- Failure to carry the minimum required
professional malpractice insurance.
- Failure to report or remit fees due LRS.
- Conduct that indicates instability or
substance abuse such that the Committee determines the applicant/member cannot
properly perform as an LRS member.
- Failure to cooperate with the Committee in
any investigation concerning a complaint.
- Failure to abide by any LRS rules or
Failure to submit case questionnaires for two
Client Complaint Procedure.
- Clients with complaints regarding the LRS
program, or a panel member will be sent a complaint form, including a waiver of
attorney-client privilege with respect to information relevant to the
complaint. The form must be returned to LRS to open a complaint.
- The LRS Manager will notify the panel
attorney and gather additional information from the client and the attorney.
- Failure by the client to provide requested
information will result in the closing of the complaint. Failure of the attorney to provide such information
may result in a recommendation to the Committee of suspension from the panel.
- The LRS Manager will report to the
- If the Committee believes that reasonable
grounds exist for suspension or removal, the Committee chair will so notify the
- If the matter appears to be an ethical
complaint or fee dispute, the client will also be referred to the WSBA.
- If the Committee recommends suspension or
removal of the panel member for any reason, the member may request a meeting
with a three-person review committee appointed by the LRS Committee
- The review panel will make a recommendation
to the full Committee, which will determine the action to be taken. There will be no further right of review.
Fee-sharing Review Process.
- Panel members
shall, under any of the circumstances outlined below, allow the Lawyer Referral
Committee or its designee to review members’ accounting and financial records
of LRS- referred clients.
- The panel member
receives a high number of referrals, but has reported no or an unusually low
number of retained cases.
- The panel member
has failed to return two consecutive quarterly case status reports.
- There is a
discrepancy between information reported by the attorney and that reported by
- The panel member
has failed to report a retained case.
- The panel member’s
name is randomly selected.
- Such other reason
as the Committee determines is sufficient.
- If the Committee selects a panel member for review,
the member shall be given notice by mail, along with a request for specific
relevant information or documents. The
notice shall specify the reason for the request.
- The Committee shall appoint a committee member or
other person to conduct the review. The
review shall be conducted with as little inconvenience to the panel member as
- The reviewer shall report to the Committee at the
next monthly meeting of the Committee. The full Committee shall consider the
report and make a determination. If it
is determined that the panel member has fulfilled his/her obligations to LRS,
there will be no further action. If it
is determined that the member has not met those obligations, the Committee
shall set out the steps required for the member to maintain panel membership
and the timetable for compliance.
- If the panel member does not cooperate with the
review or with the determination, his/her membership in the LRS shall be
terminated. The Committee may also
report the member to the WSBA.
- Confidentiality. All communications, documents, and other information obtained under
this rule are confidential and such information shall not be released to anyone
other than the LRS committee members, the LRS Manager, or, in some
circumstances, the WSBA, or to enforce the LRS agreement.
Reinstatement of Suspended Panel Member
If the panel member has been removed due to a
complaint, the attorney may reapply six months after removal upon a showing
that the problem has been corrected.
If the panel member has been removed due to
failure to abide by the administrative provisions of these rules, the member
may be reinstated upon compliance.
Limited Legal Services (Unbundled) Family Law Panel
The LRS may establish a panel specifically
for the purpose of providing limited legal services.
may be referred to such panel members for:
matters that may be appropriate for limited services.
clients whose situations
appear suited to limited legal services will be given two names (rather than
one) due to the time sensitive nature of these matters.
No administrative fee will be collected from
unbundled referral clients. The half
hour free consultation does not apply and Panel members may charge the client
from the beginning of the contact.
The 14% fee share is owed LRS for clients
where the total fee collected is over $1,000.
Reduced Fee Panels
Establishment of Panel:
order to serve those who cannot afford regular attorney fees, LRS may maintain
a special panel for eligible clients. This panel will have only selected
subject panels reflecting the most common requests by low income clients. The LRS program may temporarily shut down the
Low Fee Panels if member attorneys become inundated with cases, or if there an
insufficient number of attorneys on individual panels.
Attorneys may join only the Low Fee panel at no cost.
Clients referred for low fee representation
must have a net income between 125% and 225% of the federal poverty level and
have limited assets.
The fees set for the Low Fee panel may be
evaluated and updated as needed. A
recommendation will be made by the LRS Committee to the KCBA Board for
will be required to complete a written application formand submit a processing fee.
This fee will be set by the King County Bar Association committee and evaluated
on a regular basis.
found eligible will be referred if an attorney on the Low Fee panel if an attorney
is willing to accept the referral.
forms sent to attorneys will have the case type listed as Low Fee, e.g., Low
Fee Contested Family Law.
Hourly rates are limited to $75 per hour.
fee deposits are limited to $900 for contested family law and
misdemeanors. For all other matters, the
deposit limit is $450.
some matters are to be charged at a flat rate. Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcies without
litigation are $600 (plus the filing fee).
Simple wills are $75 and powers of attorney or directives to physicians,
fee share is not applicable to cases referred to the Low Fee Panel.
will be set by the KCBA and shall be evaluated on a regular basis by the LRS
Committee and LRS Staff.
panel member agrees to indemnify King County Bar Association from any or all
claims, liability, or loss incurred through any negligence or intentional
conduct of the attorney which causes damage to a client referred by LRS. In addition, the attorney agrees to waive any
or all claims against King County Bar Association for loss arising from the
operation and policies of LRS.
Sample Language to Add
to Fee Agreement with LRS-Referred Clients
I, the undersigned Client, understand that since this matter was referred by the
King County Bar Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), Attorney pays the LRS 14% of
attorney fees, as permitted by the Rules of Professional conduct, RPC
1.5(e)(1), for attorney fees of $1,000 and above. A 20% fee share will be in effect for fee of $25,000 and above. I consent to Attorney
informing LRS of the total settlement amount even in cases where the settlement
is otherwise undisclosable, and, under appropriate circumstances, allowing
review of the attorney’s accounting and financial records pertaining to this
case to determine the proper payment of the fee share agreement.