STATEMENT OF SNOHOMISH COUNTY BAR REFERRAL SERVICE RULES
The Snohomish County Bar Association (SCBA) recognizes that there exists a large group of persons of moderate means who feel that legal services are not readily available. In order to respond to the needs of these persons, the SCBA has established a lawyer referral service.
The immediate objective of the SCBA in the establishment of the SCBA Lawyer Referral Service, hereinafter referred to as the “Service”, is to assist the general public, by providing a way in which any person who can afford to pay a reasonable fee for legal services may be referred to a member of the Snohomish County Bar.
The long-range objectives are to:
A. Acquaint people in need of legal service with the value of consultation with a lawyer.
B. Acquaint lawyers with the fact that the needs of some clients suggest the use of deferred or reduced fee payment plan.
III. The Service
The Service will be operated from an office in Everett. A person seeking a referral to a lawyer may use a line maintained by the SCBA. Such person will be interviewed by a staff member and a referral will be made to a panel member of the service on a rotating basis upon the agreement of such person to pay an initial fee of $35.00, provided the consultation does not exceed one half hour.
IV. Formation of the Panel
a. All active members of the Washington State Bar Association who are members of the Snohomish County Bar Association in good standing may qualify for membership on the panel by filing an application and paying the annual fee, except as follows: No member of the Association shall be eligible for a membership on the panel if any time the member has been disbarred or suspended from the practice of law pursuant to the Rules for Lawyer Discipline (RLD) as established by the Supreme Court of Washington. This ineligibility shall remain in force until the end of the period of disbarment or suspension in accordance with the RLD. The lawyer shall immediately notify the Service upon receipt of notice of such disbarment or suspension. The Lawyer Referral Committee (hereinafter “Committee”) of the SCBA shall have the power to reject an applicant or to remove him/her front he panel for good cause shown subject, however, to review as provided in Section VI.
b. Applications for membership, once approved, will be placed in rotation.
c. In submitting an application for membership on the panel, the applicant may list those areas of legal work in which he/she is willing to accept referrals.
d. A member, in filing the application, agrees that:
(1) He/she will grant an initial consultation for a fee of $35.00 to any client referred to him/her, provided the conference does not exceed one-half hour. On Personal Injury referrals, there is a 5% referral fee on $2,500.00 or more of attorney fees.
(2) Any charge for further service will be as agreed upon with the client and in keeping with the stated objectives of the service.
(3) He/she carries, and will continue to carry, professional liability insurance in minimum policy limits of $100,000/$300,000.
(4) He/she will grant all clients referred by the Service an appointment as soon as possible after the request is made.
(5) 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.
(6) He/she will abide by all the rules of the Service.
(7) He/she will indemnify, hold harmless, and defend the SCBA from any claims, losses, expenses, or demands arising out of or resulting from his or her participation in the panel.
V. Fee for Membership
Each panel member will pay to the Association a nonrefundable annual membership fee of $50.00 no later than January 1 of each year, or at such other time as the Board of Trustees may designate. Such fees will be ensued to defray the costs of operation of the Service. Failure to pay such fee will result in the removal of the lawyer’s name from the panel.
VI. Removal/Withdrawal from Membership
a. The grounds for exclusion from the panel as set forth in paragraph IV (a)(1), above, shall make removal of a panel member mandatory. The Committee may at any time remove a panel member from the panel for good cause. Any person removed for good cause, however, shall have a right to have the action reviewed by and before the Trustees of the SCBA. The request for a review shall be in writing to the Trustees of the SCBA within thirty days after receipt by the party so removed of notice of his/her removal. No case shall be referred to the attorney requesting review while the review is pending. If after the review the Trustees order reinstatement, the member’s name shall be placed on the panel.
b. Any member of the Association whose application is rejected for good cause shall have a similar right of review by and before the Trustees of the Association. The applicant of notice of the rejection of his/her application shall make the request for review in writing to the Trustees within thirty (30) days after receipt by the Committee. If after review the Trustees order the member’s name to be added to the panel, the name shall be placed on the panel.
c. A panel member may withdraw from the panel at any time by giving written notice of withdrawal to the Trustees. However, no panel member may withdraw with respect to, or be relieved of his/her duty to dispose of, in accordance with these rules, a case which had been referred to him/her prior to the receipt by the Committee of his/her written notice of withdrawal.
VII. Operation of the Panel
a. Referrals are made on a rotating basis within subject matter panels, with consideration of the nature of the client’s case and geographical location. In some cases, or on some selected panels, a client may be given two referrals at once.
b. If the Service ascertains that a person being interviewed is presently represented by a lawyer, such fact shall be made known to the panel member to whom a referral is made.
c. Panel members will accept any referral for initial interview, except for those matters which a member has indicated an unwillingness to accept referrals. However, should any referral give rise to a conflict of interest, the panel member will contact the Service and obtain a new referral for the client. Nothing herein will be construed to obligate a panel member to accept employment beyond the initial consultation.
VII. Acknowledgment and Report of Referrals
The panel member will complete and return a referral report, forwarded by the Service, within ten (10) days after each referral. Failure to return the memorandum with the time specified may justify the Service in removing his/her name from the panel. Nothing herein will require any attorney to violate the attorney-client privilege.
The Service will keep on file a confidential record of all referrals and reports of panel members.
The Service will be publicized in such manner and to such extent as will fulfill its objectives consistent with the Rules of Professional Conduct.
XI. Amendment of Rules
These rules may be amended from time to time by the SCBA Board of Trustees.