LAW DAY: 3 Attorneys Recognized This Year for LRS Support

By 
David Golbitz
The Daily Record

The three attorneys receiving this year’s Alfred G. Ellick Lawyer Referral Service Award — Ashley L. Albertsen and Melissa M. Oestmann of Oestmann and Albertsen Law, and Chad W. Swantz of Suiter Swantz IP — each has their own reasons for participating in the Omaha Bar Association’s nonprofit program.

However, they all agree that there is no better way to find a qualified, competent attorney in the Omaha area.

“So many people don’t know where to go and don’t know what they actually need,” Albertsen said. “I can’t tell you how many people will cold call this office and be like, ‘I need an attorney,’ and if you ask them for what, it’s a 10 minute conversation because people don’t know.”

The Lawyer Referral Service provides a referral to an attorney who provided proof they have experience in the area of law that the client is seeking help addressing.

“They’re not just a person who threw up a shingle and is going to try their best but have no idea what they’re doing,” Albertsen said.

Oestmann said the Lawyer Referral Service is a useful tool for attorneys as well as the public.

“Particularly for newer attorneys who don’t know people in the legal community and other areas of law, having a one-stop shop, call this person, they’ll be able to get you to the type of attorney you need, is a great resource,” Oestmann said.

Swantz has often used the LRS to get legal advice for issues that are outside his area of expertise.

“The LRS provides a valuable service to assist people to identify an attorney who is qualified to assist them with their particular type of legal issue,” Swantz said. “Google only provides so much information, and it may take many calls and a lot of work before (finding) an attorney who is qualified to assist them.”

In addition to helping members of the public find an appropriate lawyer suited to their needs, the LRS is also a great networking tool, especially for newer lawyers.

Albertsen started working with the service “to get connected to more people.”

“I feel like it was a great way to get introduced to clients that you wouldn’t necessarily have met otherwise,” she said.

Albertsen also believes that a referral through the LRS “is more likely to retain than a cold call.”

“These people have taken the time to reach out to somebody for help,” Albertsen said. “They’re not just randomly picking a number out of the phone book and calling you. They know what they need and they’re taking a step already to reach out for help.”

The LRS, led by Executive Director Donna Birkby, is designed to assist the public in accessing lawyers who practice in various areas of law. Areas in which the participating lawyers offer their expertise include criminal defense, divorce and family law, personal injury, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, landlord/tenant, real estate and other practice areas.

The Ellick Award is named after Alfred G. Ellick, who created the OBA Lawyer Referral Service in 1962. The award recognizes a decade of work for the service.

 To date, 125 award recipients have been recognized for their dedication to the LRS.

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