Editor’s note: this article was updated on Oct. 16, 2020, to update links and program references.
I get a lot of calls from consumers with real estate-related “issues.” While I do the best I can to give them some general information about their situation, most of the conversations involve several variations on the phrase “…but you should really talk to a lawyer about all your options.” Of course, they don’t have an attorney they can talk to — if they did, they probably wouldn’t have called here.
Many of you may have clients with legal needs as well. Aside from the typical real estate needs, maybe you’re working with a relocation client who needs a local attorney to update a will. Or maybe a newly single parent with a custody issue, or a buyer who needs help correcting errors on a credit report. Where does that person go to find an attorney in this situation? Aside from referrals or the phone book, the state and local Bar Associations have various resources that can help identify a local attorney with relevant expertise.
One resource is the Lawyer Referral Service run by the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Contacting the LRS gives consumer access to a referral system in 45 counties across the state. Attorneys who sign up for the service indicate the areas of their practice and get random rotating referrals from consumers looking for help. Consumers receive an initial 1/2 hour consultation for a fee of $30 or lower, and if the consumer elects to engage the attorney they work out an appropriate fee structure at that point. Twenty-two counties offer their own local referral service — these contact numbers are on the LRS page as well.
Note that this is NOT a low income/legal aid program — the LRS is available for anyone who needs an attorney.
If you have a client or customer who might qualify for legal aid, they can get information and links to legal aid programs through Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. PLAN is a coalition of various legal aid programs across the state that provides free or low cost legal assistance to lower income citizens.