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How can I find and hire the right lawyer?

To find a lawyer, you could call a State Bar-certified lawyer referral service in your area. For an online list of certified lawyer referral services, visit the bar’s website at www.calbar.ca.gov. Or, for a recorded message with the phone numbers of certified services in your area, call 1-866-44-CA-LAW (442-2529). From out of state, call 415-538-2250.

State Bar-certified lawyer referral services, which must meet minimum standards established by the California Supreme Court, can assist you in finding the right lawyer for your particular problem. Most of these services offer half-hour consultations for a modest fee.

Attorneys who are members of certified lawyer referral services must carry insurance, agree to fee arbitration for fee disputes, meet certain standards of experience and be State Bar members in good standing.

Lawyer referral service fees do vary. Don’t forget to ask whether there is a fee for the referral or initial consultation. And if you decide to hire a lawyer, make sure you understand what you will be paying for, how much it will cost and when you will be expected to pay your bill.

You may belong to a legal insurance plan that covers the kind of services you need. Or, if you have very little income, you may qualify for free or low-cost legal help through volunteer service organizations. Check your phone directory for a legal services program located in your county. (California’s statewide legal services website — www.LawHelpCalifornia.org — can help you locate a local program.)

In addition, the courts in most counties have on-site clinics where you may be able to obtain forms and guidance on how to proceed. Your local bar association may have information on what resources are available as well.

For more information on finding an attorney, see the State Bar pamphlet How Can I Find and Hire the Right Lawyer? To order a free copy of this pamphlet or for a list of other consumer pamphlets, send an email to pamphlets@calbar.ca.gov. To find out how to order by mail, call 1-888-875-LAWS (5297). Or, visit the bar’s website—www.calbar.ca.gov—where you’ll find the consumer pamphlets, as well as information on ordering them.