Public Lawyer Referral Services in Kent County

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There are two public attorney referral services available to residents of Kent County: the Grand Rapids Bar Association and the Michigan Bar Association.

The Grand Rapids Bar Association's Lawyer Referral and Information Service has been serving the residents of Kent County since 1949. The system was established to serve those who have legal problems but are unable to pay the normal rates. This lawyer referral service connects clients to either a community service organization or a referred attorney for a $25 fee. The first half hour of the meeting with the attorney is free of charge, but after that point, the attorney's fees begin to accrue. Each attorney that is referred through this service has been screened to make sure that he or she is in good standing with the State Bar of Michigan and that the lawyer carries liability insurance. The attorneys select up to five areas of law that they are interested in having clients referred to them in, and when the clients seek a referral through the service, they are given to an attorney that both fits their legal as well as geographic needs. There is no obligation to hire the attorney you are referred to, but if you wish to be referred to a second attorney, you must go through the referral process again and pay the $25 fee a second time. As well, the Grand Rapids Bar Association offers no sort of guarantee to the clients it refers.

The State Bar of Michigan's Attorney Referral Service is a backup service that is available to residents of Kent County. This attorney service wishes clients to first utilize the Grand Rapids Bar Association's service before using theirs. Clients in Kent County who have exhausted the Grand Rapids Bar Association's service can either call or submit an electronic application to the State Bar of Michigan's Attorney Referral Service. At that point, attorney referrals are made on a rotation basis, meaning that the client has no say in which attorney he or she is referred to. There is a $20 fee to use this service which entitles the client to a 30 minute consultation with the referred attorney. After this 30 minute session, the normal attorney rates are charged to the client. All of the lawyers that are referred through this service must be in good standing with the State Bar. Here again, like the above service, the State Bar of Michigan's service does not allow the client to have any say in which attorney he or she is referred to. The client cannot compare billing rates or past client reviews to make an informed decision. The attorney that is referred is the attorney that the client is stuck with, unless he or she decides to go through the referral process again and pay the $20 fee a second time.

These two public attorney referral services provided to the residents of Kent County both charge clients a fee to be blindly referred to an attorney that the client may know little to nothing about. This is comparable to shopping for canned food while blindfolded — you may pick up a can expecting to get peaches and instead get sauerkraut.

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