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Frequently Asked Questions:
Often it is hard to determine whether or not you need an attorney. If you have been accused of a crime, you will want to hire an attorney right away. But in other matters, there are community resources that are available to help individuals in difficult situations, whether you are dealing with a labor dispute, a landlord/tennant issue, or a different matter. Our referral specialists can help direct you to a resource in the community, but can also help to determine whether you should consult with an attorney. If you are unsure about whether or not you need an attorney, contact one of our specialists for guidance.
First, you need to determine what kind of matter you are dealing with, and then you can determine the type of lawyer that will best serve your needs. The type of lawyer you hire depends on their area of specialization, and your level of comfort with a particular attorney. You can find information about different areas of attorney practice and different types of cases below, which may be a helpful resource in guiding you to the right area of specialization for each attorney. Our lawyer referral specialists can also help you find this information.
Once LRIS determines that you need a lawyer, there is a $20 charge for all referrals except in the areas of Bankruptcy, Consumer Fraud, DMV/Traffic, Elder Law, Employment, Civil Rights, Education, Insurance, Military Law, Securities, Juvenile Law, Legal Malpractice, Maritime, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Probate, Small Claims, SSD, and Workers Compensation. You will receive a free 30-minute consultation with the referred lawyer. However, you should discuss future fees with the lawyer during the initial consultation. It is important to understand how the fees are determined and when they will need to be paid. The lawyer will provide a written agreement that states what the services will cost. In situations when it is impossible to determine the exact fee, an estimate can be provided. Remember you are under no obligation to engage the services of the lawyer after your initial consultation.
Some attorneys will accept cases at a reduced fee. Each situation is evaluated individually. However, if your situation is in the family law area, the SDCBA’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) does provide San Diego residents with lawyers who participate in our Modest Means program. These lawyers have agreed to charge a reduced fee for clients who meet specific financial guidelines. Ask our counselors at the time of your request about the guideline requirements.
The Modest Means program is designed to assist clients who are having a family law dispute and are able to pay for legal services but have limited financial resources available. Clients must meet specific income and asset guidelines. Clients are matched with San Diego County attorneys who can assist them at substantially reduced rates. If clients meet the qualifications, then they will be referred to an attorney who will charge $75/hour and ask for a $1,000 retainer. To find out if you qualify, ask our counselors about the LRIS Modest Means program.