the referral process
How do Panel attorneys get connected with clients? Read about the referral process to find out what goes on in the ALRP office before a referral is even made.
When a client contacts ALRP, a Staff Attorney or law clerk will conduct an extensive intake interview that helps us determine how we can best serve the client. First, we determine whether the client is eligible for ALRP’s services. We establish that the client is HIV+ (or their legal issue is related to HIV/AIDS), they live in one of the seven Bay Area counties we serve, and they have a civil legal issue.
In order to comply with funding requirements, we then ask a series of questions that capture demographic information: the client’s race, gender, source of income, and income level. While some funders target their funds to serve low income clients, ALRP will serve all eligible clients, regardless of income.
All services provided by ALRP staff are always free. Services provided through our Panel Attorneys are governed by the ALRP Fee Protocol. Depending on the nature of the case and the income of the client, Panel Attorneys may charge a fee. That said, roughly 80% of ALRP clients have incomes of less than $20,000 a year and would receive services at the very affordable rate of $0 an hour according to the Fee Protocol. Panel Attorneys should also know that ALRP is licensed by the State Bar as a Lawyer Referral Service. All ALRP clients who need a simple will, receive it free of charge. Panel Attorneys are also expected to tithe back to ALRP 10% of any fee charged to an ALRP referred client. Although ALRP inquires about the client’s level of income, we expect that Panel Attorneys have their own procedures in place to establish the client’s income in order to determine whether a fee may be charged, and if so, what the Fee Protocol would set.
Once we have captured the necessary demographic information, we inquire as to the problem that the client is facing. Perhaps there is not a legal issue presented. Perhaps there is another agency better suited to meet their needs. As we learn more about the situation, we are then able to determine what level of service we can provide to the client. We might provide a referral to another agency, short-term legal advice, a referral to an ALRP Panel Attorney, or full representation by an ALRP Staff Attorney in either housing or insurance law.
We aim to make the intake process as efficient and accurate as possible, so that we can obtain the information we need and get our clients the help they need.
We should be clear, though, that not every case we refer to a Panel Attorney will be found to have merit. Part of our responsibility is to help our clients by assessing their case. Sometimes our role is to pass along the bad news that they do not have a legal remedy. Our hope is that ALRP Panel Attorneys work with our Staff Attorneys to ensure that our clients get the legal advice they need, whether it results in full scale representation or simply a consultation that helps the client understand why there is nothing we can do to further assist them in a particular matter.
ALRP Staff Attorneys are available to facilitate communication between a client and a Panel Attorney, or to help identify a mentor for the Panel Attorney.