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Several public and member services programs make up the Referral and Information Services. The purpose of RIS is to link people seeking legal assistance with lawyers and programs able to assist them. Lawyer Referral Service, which is the largest part of RIS, was started as a mandatory program in 1971 and became voluntary in 1985. It handles more than 60,000 calls per year, and is the only program that generates significant non-dues revenue. Other RIS programs include the Modest Means, a program for low income clients, Lawyer to Lawyer, a peer-to-peer advice service, and Problem Solvers, which offers free legal advice teens.

Lawyer Referral Service
LRS clerks refer clients to member attorneys based on location, area of law, and special services offered. The service receives roughly 250 calls per day with one third referred to community organizations, Tel-Law or other resources. Approximately 1,500 private attorneys participate in the LRS program.
When a client calls for a referral they will be asked for their name, phone number, and a brief description of their legal problem. The client will be given the name and phone number of an attorney in the area where they need assistance. If the client is referred to an attorney through the LRS, they will receive their first in-office consultation for $35 or less. Any additional fees must be arranged between client and attorney. The referral service does not set a limit on the fees attorneys charge beyond the initial consultation.

If you are unsure if you need to speak with an attorney, you may still want to call the service. LRS staff can help you focus on the type of assistance you may need, or give you more information on OSB, government, and community service programs that may be able to assist you.

Please note: If you are not in Oregon and cannot meet with a lawyer in person, we cannot guarantee the $35 in-office consultation fee. Fees should be arranged between you and the lawyer.

Modest Means Program
The Modest Means program was started in 1994 with the goal of matching low income Oregonians with attorneys willing to work for reduced fees. The program was created in a joint venture between the RIS and the Access to Justice Committee. Attorneys that participate have agreed to charge no more than $35 for the first consultation and no more than $60 per hour. If you hire a lawyer through Modest Means, you will be asked to pay a retainer. A retainer is a deposit against fees your lawyer may charge - the amount depends on the lawyer's estimate of how much work will be required to complete your case.

Modest Means attorneys only handle landlord/tenant, family law, and criminal defense. There are a limited number of Modest Means attorneys, and they are not available in all areas of Oregon. Clients must be Oregon residents and must fill out an application to participate in the Modest Means program. Eligibility for the Modest Means program is based on type of legal matter, client income and assets, and availability of participating attorneys.

If a client qualifies, LRS staff will supply the name and phone number of an attorney in the area where assistance is needed. It is the responsibility of the client to make an appointment with the attorney for a consultation. Modest Means attorneys require payment of a retainer or deposit. The amount of the retainer fee will depend on the attorney's estimate of the difficulty and amount of work involved with the case. The client will also be responsible for any court fees and other direct costs, such as long-distance phone charges and photocopying expenses. Please remember that Modest Means is not a Legal Aid program. Clients must be able to pay for any services. Clients should consider contacting their county's Legal Aid program if they are unable to afford Modest Means fees. The Oregon State Bar does not have a referral program for Pro Bono or free attorneys.

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