State Bar of Arizona Find a Lawyer logo

Imagine a way to assist consumers in locating an attorney – at the widest possible range of price points – and doing so in a way that helps lawyers obtain clients and develop their law practice.

That imaginative effort culminates today in the launch of web portal Find-a-Lawyer by the State Bar of Arizona.

How appropriate that the launch is on Law Day – an annual event that celebrates the role of law in society.

According to the State Bar, more than 8,000 Arizona lawyers have already updated their online profiles – which means they will receive matches with potential clients who post in the new tool that they are seeking legal assistance.

A first of its kind, the Find-a-Lawyer website allows consumers to control the process of finding and hiring an attorney through a safe and reliable platform. Find-a-Lawyer is accessible through smartphones, tablets and desktop computers via azbar.org to find legal help in three easy steps:

  • Summarizing their legal need Consumers will post their legal needs anonymously, quickly and for free. They will also choose what they can afford to pay.
  • Receiving emails from lawyers Lawyers who are interested in working on the consumer’s legal project will contact the consumer via email.
  • Review and Select a Lawyer Consumers will review emails from lawyers and will then select the lawyer who best fits their needs.

What follows is some more background about Find-a-Lawyer.

Facing a legal problem can be intimidating. Hiring a lawyer shouldn’t be. That’s why the State Bar of Arizona has created a new online tool to connect consumers with lawyers that’s free and easy. The new Find-a-Lawyer puts consumers in control.

According to a 2017 legal trends report, the most common way consumers find lawyers is through a referral. A friend or family member may recommend someone. But, what if no one in your circle knows a lawyer? What if that lawyer isn’t practicing in the right area?

The new Find-a-Lawyer gives consumers the ability to find lawyers in a safe and stress-free way.

How does it work?

State Bar of Arizona Find a Lawyer screenshot

Consumers start by going to the State Bar’s website, AZBar.org. Next, they’ll click on the Find-a-Lawyer button. They can then start the process of finding a lawyer. They’ll have the chance to post a brief summary of their problem and choose a practice area like bankruptcy or divorce.

Next, they’ll have the option of saying how much they can afford. They can choose low, medium or high. But the website makes it clear that the amount paid likely affects the amount of experience. As with many other professions, the more the consumer is willing to pay, the greater the level of expertise they’ll receive.

A 2014 research project done by the Texas A&M University School of Law found that providing legal services for people with lower incomes is an area of great concern. It pointed out that while more than 81 million households earned less than the median income of $51,017 in 2012, many of these individuals made too much to qualify for free legal services. The new Find-a-Lawyer will give people in lower incomes the ability to find the right lawyer at the right price.

Once the legal project is posted, Arizona lawyers who practice in that area of law will get an email about the case. They can respond to the consumer with information about how they can help, including information about price. If the consumer gets multiple responses, they can choose which lawyer will meet their needs.

People who have limited financial means can also post cases. They’ll be asked to provide information about their income and the number of people in their home. Lawyers willing to help can contact the individuals directly, although it’s important to point out there are only a limited number of free cases handled each year.

While lawyers will pay an annual fee to respond to cases, there is no charge per case and no fee splitting. That potentially means lower costs to the consumer.

Find-a-Lawyer can be easily accessed by smartphones, tablets and desktop computers, making it a next-generation tool. It makes the process of hiring an attorney painless and puts the consumer in control.

To learn more just go to AZBar.org and click Find-a-Lawyer.

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George H. Lyons, 1947-2013

George H. Lyons, 1947-2013

I was so sorry to learn recently that Phoenix trial attorney George H. Lyons had passed away suddenly, at age 66. You may not have received that news, but the state and the bar are far worse for his death.

His obituary is here. Like the man, the written testament to him is charming and humble. So I should add to the record by enumerating a few of his paths to legal service. Among other ways George stepped up, he was:

“President of the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education (2010-2011); Member, Board of Directors of Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education (2006-2009); President of Community Legal Services (2002-2003); Member, Board of Directors of Community Legal Services (2004-2006); Member of the Civil Practice & Procedure Committee for the State Bar of Arizona (2010-2012); Member of the Hearing Committee of the Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Arizona (1982-1990); Member of the Committee on Rules of Professional Conduct for the State Bar of Arizona (1983-1989)”

That, of course, was just his legal contribution.

It was just recently that George wrote for the July/August issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine. Our cover story that month was the 35th birthday of the Arizona Bar Foundation. George joined other former Foundation Presidents in sharing his memories of his term. His contribution to that feature story begins here.

Rest in peace.

National Pro Bono Celebration logo 2012It’s an annual pleasure to share the news about national Pro Bono Week. It is celebrated this year from October 21 to October 27.

In recent years, I’ve written about local pro bono events (for examples, see here, here and here). To get an idea of what’s going on this week, click here.

(Do you want to pass on some pro bono good news from you or your law office? Contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org and I may get it posted this week.)

When you click the link to the National Pro Bono Celebration, you’ll see that a few of those events are hosted by Community Legal Services. Among other good news, they happen to be celebrating an anniversary this year. We were pleased to share in that celebration by publishing an article on the topic in Arizona Attorney Magazine. You can read it here.

To add to the festivities, this week there will be an event honoring CLS and its six decades of accomplishment. I hope to see you there.

Community Legal Services 60-year anniversary article in Arizona Attorney Magazine

National Pro Bono Week is coming up. To help you understand more about what that means, here is some of my Editor’s Letter from the October Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Last year, we committed to telling a number of pro bono stories online in October’s National Pro Bono Week. And we did. This year, we plan to do the same—and we may be able to tell your story.

The National Celebration of Pro Bono is a nationwide effort in which bloggers participate in the conversation about pro bono legal services.

This year’s focus aims to “frame a new way of thinking about and delivering pro bono services”:

  • What has worked?
  • What are the very best practices?
  • What is the experience of those working on this issue?
  • What changes are needed and how might they be accomplished?
  • What are the most effective collaborations and partnerships?
  • How can the private and public interest bars work together most effectively to provide access to justice for all?

To add to the conversation’s vibrancy, the folks at the American Bar Association are posting new questions twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays. They invite people to read and comment; questions and a schedule are posted here.

To give you a nudge, here is the question they posted today for today: “What systemic issues do you see in the delivery of legal services and equal access to justice? How does pro bono fit (or not) into the big picture?”

Organizers invite all of us to participate early and often—and to urge colleagues to join in too.

Here is the page that includes all the questions and the evolving responses (housed in WordPress).

Besides participating in the national Q&A, perhaps you, your firm or your employer have a unique pro bono story to tell. If you do, contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. Maybe we can get your word out.

And if you write a law blog and want to participate, see the celebration website for more information.

As the organizers describe it, “Pro Bono Week is a strategic tool that can be useful in advancing pro bono, resulting in concrete legal services and programs for many currently denied access to justice. Your participation is a vital part of promoting awareness and participation.”

See you online.

ABA/NLADA Conference, Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs

Here is the conclusion of our May interview with ABA then-President Carolyn Lamm, including her comments about the crisis in legal services funding.

Me: The ABA Equal Justice Conference just kicked off in Arizona today. What are the most important issues in the area today?

Lamm: Funding is huge. It’s at the top of the list. The justice gap in the United States is only growing. About 80 percent are not served. That’s huge, especially when they are facing the loss of basic human rights, such as housing and family status, not to be able to have a lawyer. And we know that it’s grown exponentially in terms of need. We now have 65 million Americans that are below the poverty guideline for Legal services Corporation legal service. The stats are that they are able to serve between one and two million per annum.

The funding is now at $435 million. At a time when there were far fewer poor in the 1980s, it was at $765 million, when that amount was worth a whole lot more.

That’s not to mention those in the middle class who can’t afford service. It really is s a tremendous problem.

Me: Are there any other solutions?

Lamm: I’ve heard from some who say that lawyers should do it pro bono. I’m sorry, but lawyers can’t do it pro bono. Lawyers can each devote 50, maybe 100 hours a year. Lawyers can donate money to support it. But we can’t fill that justice gap doing it for free—that’s nonsense.

The ABA does what it can on ABA Day, when we bring in all the state bar presidents to lobby the legislators. What do we get, and extra $20 million, an extra $40 million in a good year? It’s like a Band-Aid on a broken leg. It’s not working.

Me: Are there other topics that will be covered at the conference?

Lamm: Service and support and training. In DC, I see it very starkly. The legal service providers are never as computerized as other places, and they need it more than anybody.

Me: What about staffing?

Lamm: It concerns me that we have so many young lawyers coming out of law school that are unemployed or underemployed. I think the numbers are 40 to 50 percent of graduating classes. We really should be finding ways to put them to work as interns or otherwise to fill this justice gap. They’d get experience and be moving forward. So far, we haven’t been able to do that programmatically, and it’s really horrible. We’ve got the lawyers, and we’ve got the people with the need. That we can’t bridge that is too bad.

Me: What would you name as the ABA’s proudest accomplishment this year?

Lamm: Many things. I think Ethics 2020 is tremendously important. Our advocacy efforts and helping the profession in a time of crisis were important.