Rules for Client Connect Membership
The client connect Service assists individuals in need of legal services or advice, by helping them determine whether they require and may be able to hire the services of a lawyer in private practice and, if so, connecting them to attorneys who have been screened and selected by the Service and who agree to abide by its rules. When appropriate, the Service connects individuals to other programs or agencies.
The goals of the Service, including its staff and the attorneys who are Panel Members, are to provide information and and to connect potential clients , to lawyers or other resources , to educate the public about legal representation, and to increase respect for the Jewish legal profession.
In consideration of being listed as a Member of one or more Panels of the Service,each Panel Member shall be bound by the rules of the Service .
Panel Application Process
Panel” means the group of attorneys listed by the Service as being eligible to receive client connect contacts regarding legal matters in any of the Panel Categories or Sub-Categories established by the Service. “Panel Member” or “Member” means any attorney listed by the Service from time to time as eligible to receive client contact requests for legal matters in any of the Panel Categories or Sub-Categories. “Panel Membership” or “Membership” means the status of an attorney as a Panel Member. Membership on any Panel is open to attorneys who are in good standing before the State Bar they are members of who actively practice law.
An attorney who desires to be listed as a Panel Member shall make an application to the client connect program . The Program shall review the suitability for Panel Membership of each Panel Member or applicant for Panel Membership and may,deny a listing for any legal category.
The Service has the absolute discretion, right and power to grant or deny any applicant’s or Panel Member’s application for Membership on any Panel, to renew or not renew any Panel Member’s application for renewal of Membership on any Panel, to limit the participation of any Panel Member on any Panel, or to remove any Panel Member from any Panel. No finding of professional misconduct or other wrongdoing is necessary for or is to be implied from any action by the Service which results in the suspension or removal from or non-renewal of Panel membership.
Panel Membership Requirements and Obligations
General membership is $500.00 semi-annually. Additional services listings and enhanced directory listings and specialized listings may incude additional fees
Duration of Membership
Each Member’s listing shall be effective for six months and may be renewed thereafter.
Response Time to client connect notices of potential Clients:
Each Panel Member must respond to notices within 24hrs of the initial call from a new client connect made by the Service. The preferred time would 2 hrs. Each Panel Member must inform the Service if he or she will be unable to return the phone or email response from new a potential clients.. During such period, no new client connects shall be made.
Written Retainer Agreement Requirement
It is recommended that written fee agreements be used for all matters in which clients are charged fees .
The Member shall enter into a written fee agreement before rendering substantial services in a matter that may involve a fee in excess of $2,500.00 unless the Member reasonably concludes that under the circumstances it is impractical or inappropriate to do so. To the degree practical, the agreement shall outline the work to be performed and the basis of the fee and be signed by the client.
Each Member agrees not to charge any additional fees or to increase his or her fee for the purpose of compensating for the amount due the client connect program.
Fee Disputes between Client and Panel Member
Upon the client’s written request, the Service may submit any fee dispute between a Member and a client referred by the Service to such person, persons or forum as may be designated by the Service for binding arbitration.
In the event of an arbitration proceeding, the Member shall cooperate fully in the timely conduct of such proceeding and shall not file or prosecute a lawsuit for the collection of the fee in question or assign such fee for collection except for the enforcement of the arbitration award. Nothing in this section shall preclude the parties from agreeing to mediation of any fee dispute between a Member and a client.
Fee Disputes between Member and the Service
Each Member agrees that any fee dispute between the Member and the client connect Service shall be submitted to a mutually agreeable arbitrator or mediator. If the Member and the Jewish lawyer Network client connect service are unable to agree upon an arbitrator or mediator for said dispute, the dispute shall be submitted to the American Arbitration Association. Each Member who is retained to handle a matter referred to such Member by the Service shall maintain responsibility for and control of such matter. A Member shall not transfer responsibility or control of any matter referred by the Service unless required by law, court order or the written direction of the client.
However, the foregoing shall not prevent a Member who is associated with a firm or group from having aspects of the matter handled by another attorney in the firm or group under the Panel Member’s supervision, provided that the Panel Member retains responsibility and control.
Client Complaints about Members
Any complaint or inquiry made by a person to the Service or to the JLN or any member thereof, shall be deemed to be a privileged communication as if contained in a pleading filed in a court . No Member shall commence or threaten to commence any libel, slander, interference with contractual relations or similar action based upon a complaint or inquiry made to the Service.
Suspension, Withdrawal and/or Removal of Members or other action affecting the status of members during the membership year Membership may be summarily suspended by the Service as a result of a
Member’s failure to comply with any of the following administrative requirements:
Accurate record-keeping as to all matters referred by the Service;
Prompt and timely payment of fees due to the JLN Prompt and timely submission of proof of current professional liability insurance or affidavit of personal financial responsibility.
A Member who is suspended from their Bar Association shall automatically be suspended from receiving clients. A Member who is disbarred shall automatically be terminated from Membership. Membership may be suspended or terminated by the Service if the Member:
A. Violates the Code of Professional Responsibility, or Rules of the Appellate Division, First and Second Departments;
B. Is convicted of any misdemeanor or felony in any jurisdiction;
C. Fails to comply with any of the Rules including, but not limited to the following:
1. charging consultation fees to Service clients in excess of those allowed by the Rules;
2. failing to comply with the Rules regarding the resolution of fee disputes or to comply with the Rules regarding review and audit of business records;
3. failing to maintain professional liability insurance or financial solvency in accordance with the Rules .
D. Engages in conduct harmful or injurious to the goals, reputation or interests of the Service, including:
2. excessive poor response to clients sent via the client connect Service; excessive failure to respond to client connects within a 24hr time period.
3. failing to inform the Service when the panel member will be unable to accept or return phone calls from new l clients;
4. rudeness to clients or to Service staff;
5. repeated fee disputes with clients;
6. impeding the Service’s investigation of a client complaint, including but not limited to: threatening to sue a client or take other aggressive action against the client to prevent the client from informing the Service of a complaint; and
7. offering the client an inducement to withdraw a complaint or accept a settlement offer
The JLN Director or his/her designee shall review:  each complaint concerning the professional conduct of Panel Members in connection with any client connect and  any other report or notification relating to a Panel Member’s fitness to receive potential client information from the Service. The Executive Director, or his or her designee, shall make whatever investigation he or she deems to be reasonable and report to the Chair of a joint committee of peers concerning the complaint and its resolution where appropriate. The Executive Director may determine, in his or her sole discretion, that a complaint or other notification warrants immediate suspension of information.
Panel Members against whom complaints are pending shall be notified of the complaint and given an opportunity to respond. Upon the completion of its review, the committee may recommend to the that the complaint requires no action or recommend that the Panel Member be suspended or terminated or otherwise restricted in receiving new client notifications. The Panel Member who is the subject of the investigation shall be given the opportunity to provide a written response.
Any Panel Member who withdraws or is removed from panel membership shall remain bound by the terms of these rules with respect to all prior retained clients connected to them by the Service.
Any Member who has been removed from the client connect panel or has withdrawn from the Service during the time a complaint was pending against the Member, may reapply for membership with an explanation as to why they should be reconsidered. They will remain listed on the directory as a General Member however will not be eligible for client connects.
All panel members shall give notice to JLN within thirty (30) days if they have been cautioned, admonished, reprimanded, or disciplined by any disciplinary or grievance committee, agency or court; whether they are currently under investigation concerning any allegation or professional misconduct or wrongdoing; and whether they are a defendant in any lawsuit filed by a client or former client other than as previously explained in their Application for Panel Membership or a prior Application for Renewal of Panel Membership.
A panel member should list a backup attorney on his/her application and must submit a written statement to confirm that the back up attorney is aware of such obligation.
JLN=Jewish Lawyers Network