Launching the enhanced Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service

Launching the enhanced Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service

A look behind the scenes of the enhanced Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service, powered by Legal.io.


San Francisco, CA — February 11th, 2019 — In the past decade, consumers have gotten increasingly used to buying products and services online. Yet in 2019, one task crucial to the process of legal services delivery remains remarkably hard: finding trusted legal help. With the launch of the newly-enhanced Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service, this will no longer be the case for Florida consumers.

Today, we’re proud to launch the enhanced Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service, powered by Legal.io technology.

The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service makes more than 70,000 referrals annually, and to-date has sent over $100M in business to its members. Under the leadership of Michelle Rosenkranz Suskauer, Florida Bar President, and John M. Stewart, Florida Bar President-elect, The Florida Bar sought to modernize many of the LRS’ processes and tools to enhance its ability to serve members of The Florida Bar and the public.

“The enhanced Florida Bar Lawyer Referral System is a great tool for those seeking legal help, and can be a valuable resource for Florida Bar members looking to build their practices,” said John M. Stewart, who has worked for more than two years on this project. “We expect these improvements to significantly boost the number of our members signing up, which will also provide a more diverse and deeper pool of attorneys for Floridians to choose from.”

The Website

The updated client portal at https://lrs.floridabar.org is the most visible piece of the enhanced service. The portal provides the public with easy access to online legal resources, including legal guides and information about roughly 100 areas of law.

The Florida Bar LRS Client Portal, available at lrs.floridabar.org

Leveraging Legal.io’s managed legal marketplace infrastructure, the portal also provides 24/7 online access to trusted referrals, in addition to supporting the existing telephone-based intake process of the service.

Online Intake — powered by natural language processing

The online intake system deployed by The Florida Bar is capable of intelligently routing client requests to the right participating lawyer. It does this using a machine learning module that is able to classify the client’s request into one or more pertinent practice areas. This system has been trained on over 150,000 historical referrals and is highly modular so it can be adapted to the local requirements of any program using Legal.io.

This machine learning module complements the Learned Hands project launched by Stanford Law School and Suffolk Law School last year. The project, funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, also seeks to use natural language processing, a subset of AI, to classify text into practice areas.

Machine Learning Module

When the request for help fits within the geographic and legal areas served by The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service, the enhanced service will automatically suggest attorneys that are available and able to assist with the request. The client can immediately select the attorney they would like to schedule a consultation with, 24/7. The staff of The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service is able to monitor each automated referral and can make additional referrals as needed.

Self-Referral Module

The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service operates as part of an overall ecosystem of lawyer referral services. When another lawyer referral service is better positioned to serve a particular client, the service will automatically route the client to that organization. If that organization also uses the Legal.io platform, the legal record can be transferred, much as would be the case with a medical file. Several projects that will leverage this functionality are already underway, including a project with Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, funded by Legal Services Corporation.

Routing Module

Staff tools — powerful metrics + workflows

Legal.io has a powerful interface for LRS staff to manage referrals that come in online and via telephone. In the first days of operation, the enhanced service has already successfully connected over 1,000 client requests to attorneys in Florida.

Reporting Module

A innovative and efficient reporting engine gives the staff of The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service unprecedented real-time insight into which clients are being served where, in what practice areas, and whether those clients actually end up engaging an attorney. This data ensures that rather than a one-time upgrade, the service has the insights and the tools to drive continuous improvement and enhance its services to members and the public.

“It’s been truly a pleasure to work with thought leaders such as John M. Steward, Michelle Rosenkranz Suskauer, and the staff members of The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service”, said Pieter Gunst, CEO of Legal.io. “Our team is incredibly proud to contribute to building stronger communities in Florida, and we look forward to an impactful collaboration for years to come.”