Lawyer Referral Service: One Year Later

April 26, 2021

Access to justice is a key strategic goal for the Law Society, serving as one of the four pillars of our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. As part of the work of that Strategic Plan, we have increased resources providing information for the public about legal services and assistance in finding the services it needs. In late March of 2020, the Law Society moved the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) in-house from Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG), to the Law Society’s Customer Service team.

LRS assists members of the public in finding a lawyer. This is a voluntary program for lawyers who choose to sign up. Members of the public can contact the LRS via phone or email, advise the operator of their legal problem and be provided the contact details of up to three lawyers in the relevant area of law.

The first half-hour of conversation with the provided lawyers is unbilled, and should be used to discuss the client’s legal issues, options, potential costs and to help determine if the lawyer is a good fit for your legal issue.

“LRS has operated continuously since 1972, and throughout that time it has grown and changed to meet the needs of Albertans,” says President Darlene Scott, QC. “We had an opportunity to expand the capabilities and resources of LRS, improving both the responsiveness and speed of service for Albertans and lawyers.”

LRS by the Numbers

Since bringing LRS in-house, LRS has have received more than 25,000 email and phone inquiries, an increase of more than 527 per cent year-over-year.

Area of LawTotal Number of Inquiries (April 2020 – March 2021)
Civil Litigation9,158
Matrimonial & Family5,710
Employment2,356
Criminal2,067
Estate Planning1,952
Administrative1,066
Real Estate633
Immigration379
Corporate292
Commercial189
Bankruptcy131
Intellectual Property117
Tax59
Aboriginal53
Environmental27
Mediation17
Entertainment12
Arbitration1
Aviation1

 

Critically, the Customer Service team was able to both dramatically expand the number of potential LRS operators from one operator under CLG to five at the Law Society. Additionally, the Customer Service team worked to make each call and email more structured and efficient, bringing the average call length down by more than 50 per cent.

What’s next for LRS

Now that LRS is operating effectively within the Law Society, the team is looking ahead to find more improvements to the service. Starting this spring, LRS will add an additional contact method, adding web-based chat that is enabled for both desktop and mobile browsers.

Additionally, an internal team has been struck to look for ways to better improve LRS for both lawyers and the public. A new survey has been launched, looking to gather feedback from LRS participants about their experience with the service.

“We will continue to find ways to improve and expand access to justice in Alberta, and LRS is an important part of our plans going forward,” says Scott. “We’re looking forward to developing the next iteration of Lawyer Referral.”