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  • January 18, 2023

    How Membership in Our Lawyer Referral Service (LRIS) Expands Your Client Base

    The State Bar of Wisconsin's Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) connects people seeking lawyers with lawyers seeking clients. Now's the time to save on your 2023 membership – allowing you the opportunity to expand your practice.
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    Jan. 18, 2023 – The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) connects people who need legal representation with attorneys seeking to increase their client base.

    A membership with LRIS can help you grow your practice with new clients, add a new area of practice, or expand into another market.

    LRIS is looking for lawyers of all levels of experience for its referral service. Memberships run annually from July 1 to June 30 – and a membership through June 30, 2023, is now 50% off the annual rate.

    “LRIS is ideal for attorneys who are new to a region or an area of law and those looking to develop a book of business,” says Steven Krueger of Green Bay, chair of the LRIS committee.

    LRIS is a great way for lawyers to gain experience in a specific area of practice – lawyers choose to receive referrals only in the practice areas they prefer.

    “The service is a great way to establish a focus,” Krueger said. “You can choose to answer calls in only the specific areas of law in which you have an interest.”

    LRIS is also a resource when lawyers are scarce – such as in rural communities. “Legal services can be inaccessible to people for a number of reasons. LRIS offers attorneys the ability to bridge service gaps in their communities and provide valuable access to quality legal services that might otherwise be out of reach,” Krueger said.

    How LRIS Works

    Every year, LRIS legal assistants field more than 36,000 contacts from members of the public who are seeking legal information and referrals to attorneys.

    When members of the public contact LRIS, experienced legal assistants conduct a careful screening before referring matters to member attorneys. In fiscal year 2021-22, assistants received 36,469 contacts that resulted in 11,214 referrals.

    When you become a LRIS panel member, you choose the areas of practice – up to 60 specific areas – and the geographic locations for client referrals, and choose whether to receive referrals only by phone, or by phone and online.

    “It is very important to choose those specific areas in your profile,” Krueger said. “That way, our staff knows who to send your way.”

    LRIS Online Portal

    Panel members have access to LRIS Online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and there is no additional charge for participation. The portal allows panel members to more efficiently track LRIS referrals and manage their memberships.

    Accessible from anywhere via an internet connection, the portal allows you to:

    • get referrals via email;

    • receive automatic case tracking and status reporting;

    • keep track of settlement fees and payments;

    • submit quarterly reports digitally;

    • edit your demographic profile and update your availability to take referrals; and

    • renew your LRIS membership and pay online.

    How LRIS Membership Expands Your Reach

    We invest in a comprehensive marketing effort to inform clients of our link to your services, including a website directed to members of the public seeking legal services and publications distributed through the courts, public libraries, and community service agencies.

    We’ve also partnered with the Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) to offer LRIS members the opportunity to write basic bylined legal columns called “Know Your Legal Rights,” offering greater exposure to the public. These columns are offered free of charge to WNA’s 200-plus members across the state for inclusion in their local newspapers and newspaper websites.

    Between April and December 2022, these member-written columns were published 215 times in newspapers across the state, with an estimated total readership of 625,000.

    A great example from July is “Drinking and Boating: What you need to know,” by Atty. Alexus Garuz, published in the Sun Prairie Star.

    “We believe this is an excellent PR opportunity for participating members and will be a great service to Wisconsin residents looking for topical legal help,” said Katie Wilcox, State Bar customer and consumer services manager. “We’ve seen an increase in calls to LRIS since starting this program in April 2022.”

    For more information on writing for this column, contact Mike Wiltse, State Bar public relations specialist, or (608) 354-6385.

    How to Join LRIS: Receive 50% Off Cost of Registration for 2023

    For more information and to join, visit the LRIS webpage. There you’ll find membership rates and learn the rules of panel membership.

    Join now and receive 50% off your membership, good through June 30, 2023. Register through June 2024 to receive an additional 10% savings.

    Registrations renew July 1. New lawyers receive a discount off the registration price.

    Spanish Speakers Needed

    LRIS is growing, and our staff now has the ability to field calls from individuals who speak Spanish as their primary language. The service is especially in need of bilingual attorney members to help these clients. Find out more on the Lawyer Referral and Information Service webpage.

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