Frequently Asked Questions

The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA) has been serving the public since 1873. The CMBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is registered with the Supreme Court of Ohio and meets the American Bar Association's standards for Lawyer Referral Services. 

CMBA LRS provides direction to individuals who need help with a legal problem but don’t know where to turn. Many Northeast Ohioans need legal services but, due to inexperience with the legal system, are not sure what to do or who to call. Do not let unfamiliarity with the system deter you from understanding your rights! Through CMBA LRS, you can be referred to a reputable attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law for consultation and possible representation. If you do not know what kind of lawyer you need, CMBA LRS will attempt to make the right connection for you.

If, for any reason, LRS is unable to provide you with an appropriate lawyer referral, our staff will do its best to provide you alternative resources. Here are some of the most common questions we get asked. We hope this will help you better understand the service and find  the legal help you need.

Scroll down to see the answers, in numerical order.

  1. Who operates LRS? 
  2. How does the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) work?
  3. Is there a charge for the referral?
  4. What areas of law do Panel Member Attorneys practice?
  5. Why should I use LRS rather than finding an Attorney in the phone book?
  6. What if I don't know if I need an Attorney?
  7. What if I don't know what type of Attorney I need?
  8. What if I can't afford an Attorney?
  9. How much will this cost?
  10. How do Attorneys set their fees?
  11. How much will the Attorney charge?
  12. What if I need an Attorney who speaks a particular language?
  13. How long does the phone interview take?
  14. Will my conversation be kept confidential?
  15. Why do I have to give you my personal information?
  16. Can you answer my legal question?
  17. Why do I only receive one Attorney's name at a time?
  18. What if I misplaced the name and number of the Attorney you referred me to?
  19. What if I need to know the address or telephone number of an Attorney not on the LRS Panel?
  20. Can I call on behalf of my friend / family member/ coworker?

  1. Who operates LRS?
    The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association is a non-profit organization and provides this Lawyer Referral Service for the benefit of our lawyer members and the Northeast Ohio community.

  2. How does the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) work? 
    Individuals may contact LRS Weekdays 9 A.M. - 4 P.M. by phone at (216) 696-3532 (or 1-877-CLEV-BAR). Individuals calling outside these hours may leave LRS a voice message, which will be returned within 24 business hours. Be sure to include your full contact information and enough detail about your legal situation that our Intake Specialists will be able to match you with an appropriate attorney.

    After a brief interview with one of our trained Intake Specialists, you will be given the name and phone number for an LRS Attorney. The selected is based on area of law and any geographic and/or language preferences you communicate. Once you have the attorney's name and number, it is up to you to contact his/her office directly. Be sure to let the attorney know that you were referred by the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association's LRS to receive a free initial phone consultation (up to 30 minutes, at the attorney’s discretion). 

  3. Who are the referred lawyers?
    LRS refers private attorneys: Solo Practitioners and lawyers at small, medium and large law firms. None work for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association or LRS. All are licensed to practice law in Ohio and in good standing with the Supreme Court of Ohio. To learn more about a referred lawyer, feel free to do any research you see fit. You also should ask the attorney when you speak with them any specific questions you have about them.

  4. Is there a charge for the referral? For speaking with the attorney? 
    NO. The referral itself is free of charge. Additionally, the initial phone consultation is free. Neither you nor the attorney is obligated any further than this, and fees for any additional advice or services must be negotiated with the attorney (LRS does not specifically refer pro bono or reduced-rate attorneys)

  5. What areas of law do Panel Member Attorneys practice?
    ALMOST ALL AREAS OF LAW, including: Bankruptcy, Business Law, Consumer Law, Criminal Law, Employment Law, Family Law, Immigration/Naturalization, Probate law, Real Estate Law, Social Security/Disability, Tax, Workers' Compensation, and more.

    LRS is continually adding new practitioners and recruits attorneys based on consumer demand, so if there is something that you do not see, be sure to contact the Manager of LRS at (216) 696-3525.LRS Staff will always be able to help you determine if we have an attorney who meets your legal needs.

  6. What do I do once I get an LRS attorney’s name?
    Contact the attorney’s office by phone. Do not necessarily expect to speak to the attorney directly or get immediate answers to legal questions right away. In other words, it may be that the initial phone consultation will be handled by the attorney’s staff or scheduled for a later time. You can always call LRS back for additional referral(s).

  7. Why should I use LRS rather than finding an Attorney in the phone book?
    LRS Attorneys have been screened to ensure that they meet CMBA LRS standards before being placed on our LRS. We verify that each attorney applicant is in good standing with the Supreme Court of Ohio, and that they have malpractice insurance. In addition, the attorney must demonstrate experience to be referred in any legal area.

  8. What if I don't know whether I need an Attorney? 
    Our Intake Specialists will help you determine whether you would best be served by a referral to and LRS Attorney or by a referral to another resource.

  9. What if I don't know what type of Attorney I need? Our Intake Specialists will help you determine what type of Attorney would best be able to assist you.

  10. What if I can't afford an Attorney? 
    Our Intake Specialists will help you determine how best to handle your situation. If your legal situation is in Personal Injury, Employment Law, Consumer Law, or Social Security/Disability, you may be able to be referred to an Attorney even if you are not able to pay for his/her services up front. This is because attorneys practicing in these areas of law are often able to take cases on what is called a “contingency” basis (any legal fee being calculated as a percentage of the recovery). LRS does not make arrangements for reduced fee or free legal services. These needs are met primarily through Community Legal Aid and/or a Public Defender’s Office. Call (216) 687-1900 for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

  11. How much will a lawyer cost? 
    Every case is different, and attorney fees can vary from attorney to attorney based upon the complexity of the case, the attorney’s experience, and what is a considered reasonable for a particular locality. If you have concerns about an attorney's fee, do not hesitate to address it up front in discussion with the attorney. LRS does not keep attorney fee information on file.

  12. How do Attorneys set their fees?
    Generally, cases are handled either on an hourly fee rate or a “contingency” basis (meaning that any fee is calculated as a percentage of the recovery). In most “hourly” cases, a “retainer” fee (an up-front payment similar to a deposit) is required. The lawyer and the client should discuss the specific fee arrangement to be followed in a given case.

  13. What if I need an Attorney who speaks a particular language or has offices in a particular location? 
    MENTION THIS TO US UP FRONT. We currently have LRS Attorneys who speak several foreign languages, but these may or may not handle the type of legal situation you are encountering. Because LRS frequently adds new attorneys to its referral roster, it is best to check directly with the Intake Specialist during your phone interview. Likewise, if you are looking for somebody with offices in a particular part of town, mention this to us, as we will gladly attempt to accommodate such requests (availability permitting).

  14. How long does the phone interview take? 
    Our Intake Specialist phone interviews can be completed in approximately 4-6 minutes, depending on the complexity of the issue(s) presented. You may have to wait in a phone queue several moments, but we will process your referral request(s) as quickly and easily as possible for you.

  15. Will my conversation be kept confidential? 
    YES. All LRS conversations are treated as completely confidential. The questions our Intake Specialists ask during the course of the phone interview are only to help us refer you to the most appropriate attorney for a given situation. Information provided will only be accessible by CMBA LRS staff and the LRS attorney.

  16. Why do I have to give you my personal information? 
    We are required by regulation to record this information, and cannot process a referral without it. LRS respects your privacy and right not to provide this information, but if you make such We ask for your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address (if applicable). This information is for referral purposes only. A referred individual might be selected to receive a form Client Satisfaction Survey. Should you prefer not to receive such a survey, simply mention this to us.

  17. Can you answer my legal question? 
    NO. LRS is not staffed by attorneys and therefore cannot provide legal advice or services to the public. LRS is not a legal advice hotline; it will refer you to a private lawyer with whom you can discuss your situation.

  18. Why do I only receive one Attorney's name at a time? 
    It is our policy to give each caller the name and number of one attorney at a time. If you call that attorney and find that they are for any reason unable to assist you, you are encouraged to give our service a call back for additional referral. If you need to call back for this purpose, be sure to indicate you have been referred previously.

  19. What if I misplaced the name and number of the Attorney you referred me to? 
    Simply contact LRS, explain the situation to the Intake Specialist, and we will give you the information you need.

  20. What if I need to know the address or telephone number of an Attorney not on the LRS Panel? 
    All Ohio attorneys are required to keep certain contact information on file with The Supreme Court of Ohio's Office of Attorney Registration. Call (614) 387-9320 for information on the attorney or click here to look attorneys up by name through the Supreme Court of Ohio's Office of Attorney Registration online registry.

  21. Can I call on behalf of my friend / family member/ coworker? 
    Unfortunately, due to legal and other restraints the LRS is generally not able to give third party referrals and would prefer to talk to the prospective client directly. We understand that you may be doing your friend or family member a favor, but if they are able to call in or reach us Online themselves, we need to speak with them directly. If there is a valid reason that someone close to you is literally unable to reach us him/herself, an Intake Specialist may be able to assist you with an alternative method of reaching an attorney.