Message from OBA President, Jennifer R. Petersen
Happy 50th Birthday Lawyer Referral Service!
In November, the Omaha Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service (“LRS”) celebrated its 50th anniversary.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with LRS, it is a non-profit public service of the Omaha Bar Association. The service refers members of the public to private attorneys in Douglas and Sarpy counties.
Unlike many other lawyer referral services in the country, LRS is a true non-profit service in that it does not charge the public a fee for a referral, either directly or via percentage fee with the LRS-affiliated attorneys. LRS attorneys do however charge a fee of $40 for the first thirty-minute consultation with a qualified attorney. No fees, however, are charged for initial consultations with worker’s compensation, personal injury, bankruptcy, or social security lawyers.
Many people are under the impression that LRS lawyers work for reduced or no fee, similar to the state bar’s Volunteer Lawyer’s Project. This is simply untrue. Following the initial consultation, the client pays the lawyer’s regular rates directly to the lawyer as would any other client.
Most of you are well-familiar with Donna Birkby, the Executive Director of LRS. Donna has been with the LRS Executive Director for over 23 years. Donna has a special passion for LRS that is in part born from her experience as a former LRS client. As a former LRS client, she uses her experience every day in patiently helping the LRS clients navigate the referral process. If you ask Donna why she has done this for over 23 years, she will typically give you a big smile and says, “I just love lawyers!” Now, how many people can say that?
Although Donna leads the charge of managing LRS, she does not do it alone. LRS has an energetic committee, chaired by Rich McGowan and consisting of Ronald Frank, Mark Greul, Ryan Hoffman, Mark Jacobs, Michael Jones, Amy Longo, Richard Lydick, Alton Mitchell, John Nelson, Daniel Rock, Hunter Sadle, Matthew Stierman, Jo Wandel. This committee has a passion for LRS as a public service and is constantly looking for ways to increase the visibility of LRS to the public. Last year for the first time, LRS had a table at the “Big O” show, which was such a success that they continued it this year.
Although Donna is far too humble to ever share this herself, she and LRS have enjoyed some well-deserved accolades earlier this year. Many of you may not know that Donna received the Omaha Legal Professional Association’s “Legal Professional of the Year” earlier in 2012. Additionally, the LRS received the OBA’s Public Service Award at the 2012 Law Day Luncheon.
If you are a lawyer who is looking to increase your business, consider signing up for LRS. It is inexpensive and may help you land new clients in your practice area.
Additionally, for those of you who get cold calls and need a referral, please consider sending those calls to LRS. LRS has lawyers in all areas of the law who may be able to assist a client in the event that you are not able to take the client’s case. Additionally, consider adding LRS to your firm’s standard disengagement letter. It’s a great way to provide a client with another resource when you are unable to take the work.
The OBA is very proud to have a non-profit LRS and is also very proud to have such an outstanding Executive Director and LRS committee. Please join me in congratulating Donna and the LRS committee on the well-deserved awards this year as well as 50 years of serving the Omaha community.