A lawyer referral service is typically offered by state and local bar associations as a public service. The purpose of a lawyer referral service is to increase access to justice by referring members of the general public to lawyers in private practice or to legal aid organizations or agencies for a nominal fee. Increasingly, the public is turning away from these services and toward online attorney-client matchmaking services like Lawdingo.com.
A potential client who contacts a lawyer referral service is directed to a lawyer who practices in the area of law that is most appropriate for their situation. If a client is unable to afford a lawyer and the legal problem is not a matter that can be handled by a lawyer on a percentage fee basis, the client is directed to a legal aid organization for help. There is a difference between referral service programs that are certified by the American Bar Association and state bar associations.