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Lawyer Referral Service upgrade aims to bring more voluntary bars onboard

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LRSThe Executive Committee has approved proposed changes to the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service designed to encourage wider participation by interested voluntary bar association lawyer referral services.

The committee met March 20 by teleconference in lieu of a Board of Governors meeting that was cancelled in the wake of COVID-19 virus outbreak. Board members participated in the meeting, but under Bar bylaws, only Executive Committee members were permitted to vote.

The Executive Committee voted unanimously to approve a Budget Committee proposal that would set panel member participation fees at $200 and revenue sharing with voluntary bars at 25%.

“We are now looking to start rolling it out so that interested voluntary bars can also participate in the program, and create incentives for them to do so,” said Budget Committee Chair Steve Davis. “This is potentially going to be a great member service.”

The goal, according to a staff analysis, “was to design a cooperative approach that would utilize the system designed for [The Florida Bar] by the voluntary areas without requiring significant development expense and would benefit both organizations.”

The proposal follows a 2018-19 system redesign that brought significant improvements, and requests by a couple of voluntary bar groups that wanted to join The Florida Bar in using the new application, according to the analysis.

Davis said the upgraded Lawyer Referral Service generated more than $2 million in fees for participating lawyers since its launch.

“By modifying it to make it more attractive for voluntary bars to join, it will allow us to hopefully gather in the 11 or 12 geographic bars throughout the state that have the largest areas, to hopefully migrate their platforms to us,” Davis said.

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