How Sally Consumer Uses the SBM Directory

How Sally Consumer Uses the SBM Directory

Clear & Convincing Feature Article

Make Contact Information Work for You

Sally Consumer has a legal problem. Her mother is suffering from the early stages of dementia. Mom is a very private person but Sally believes it’s time for her to become Mom’s guardian. She knows this is a big step and she knows Mom will not agree willingly.

Sally needs some legal advice. Since she lives in Michigan, she turns to the SBM Member Directory for help. Her search takes her to the form for finding a lawyer. Reading the directions, she types in her city, Traverse City, and the area of practice—elder law, guardianships.

Seeing the box labeled "show me only lawyers who have indicated that they are accepting new clients" and reasoning there is no point in looking at the lawyers not accepting clients, she clicks "Yes." One name pops up—it seems only one lawyer in Traverse City is accepting clients in her area of concern—elder law, guardianship.

That lawyer has an expanded profile, which gives Sally information about the lawyer's education, background, legal practice, and her contact information. Seeing that the lawyer is in good standing, Sally calls her for an appointment.

Had Sally clicked the “No” choice on the "accepting new clients" option, she would have found seven other lawyers in her city with practices in elder law who could have helped her. However, those lawyers had not opted in to indicate that they are accepting new clients.

There is more information available to Sally on the SBM Member Directory. If she clicks on Zeekapedia, she can link to Life Events to find information on marriage, protection of ideas, real estate, retirement, or employment law issues. The link, Articles and Blogs, takes her to several articles on legal topics such as senior scams, arbitration, civil litigation, or lawyers.

Sally can register on the site if she chooses. When she does she is asked to read the Terms of Use Agreement for Consumers. Sally scans through the document learning that the site doesn't recommend lawyers, that using the site and contacting the lawyers establishes no attorney-client relationship, and she should not post personal or confidential information on the site or to the lawyers she contacts.

Registration gives her access to a dashboard where she can create a profile complete with pictures. She can also organize her search by adding her active attorney requests and the completed requests. In this way all her lawyer information is in one place. Sally can connect with other people she finds on the site by clicking the +Friend link and she can create or join discussion groups on legal topics of interest to her.

The SBM member directory offers consumers, like Sally, access to all the 44,000 plus Michigan lawyers on the site. When Sally searches for lawyers using a practice area and her geographic location, she is presented with lawyer profiles that match her situation. Using the information she finds, Sally can call the lawyer for an appointment, relieved that she is now on her way to solving this family and legal issue.

Roberta GubbinsRoberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.

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