The Florida Bar Association Referral Service is paid for by you, the lawyer’s client. The lawyer referral service charges Florida Bar Association members a fee to be part of the member search for referrals. Additionally, they charge a percentage of the legal fee that you, the client, will pay.
Although no one will admit it, and the Florida Bar Association frowns on it, most lawyers in the referral service tack on a 20% surcharge to cover the fee that they have to pay the Bar’s referral service. Even worse, the Florida Bar will not allow other referral services to to do the same thing: Somehow it violates ethics when private companies charge a percentage of the legal fee, but not when the Florida Bar does so. Somehow, the fact that the lawyer referral service of the Florida Bar Association is . . . the Florida Bar’s source of revenue from client legal fees makes it okay for the Bar to charge a percentage of the fee you pay. No other referral service can do so, but the Bar, can do so, does so, and when you search their website, they conveniently forget to tell you about it.
Recently, I tried to buy advertising on the Bar Association’s website. They advertised that you could buy ad space for web banners on the lawyer referral service page. However, when I tried to do so, they quickly figured out that I would not use the “referral service,” would not be giving them a percent of the legal fee charged to you, the client, and suddenly, they took down the very page saying that such advertising was not only permissible, but actively sought.
So, if you are tempted to use the Florida Bar Association for lawyer referral services, remember that this is a profit center for the bar that you, the client, will pay for.
The lawyer referral service used to charge 15% plus the sign up fee. Now, they charge 20%. So, the truth is simply this: Some lawyers will not charge you and surcharge, but most will. If you use the Lawyer Referral Service of the Florida Bar Association, expect to pay higher legal fees.
Needless to say, this post is not popular with the Lawyer referral service division of the Florida Bar Association, but I thought you should know about it.
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