The WV State Bar Referral Service – Leaping Into the New Millenium


Get ready folks; the WV State Bar is headed into the new millennium, and WV Lawyers ignore this development at their peril. (Ed: sorry I don’t have more time for this, but this system now is available on-line. Check with WV State Bar for more information. 2-25-2015.)

“What is he talking about?” you say?

First, the URL to the referral service is . As soon as I got the e-mailed “The Bar Blast” notification of the new site, I searched for myself and was startled that I did not show up. An e-mail to the State Bar quickly remedied that.

This is part of a trend that is irreversible:

1. The State Bar has digitized the nice, glossy, State Bar Lawyer and Judge and Clerk Directory. It saved $50,000 for its members. Now those who just can’t manage using the directory online, have to pay for it. I doubt many will do so.

2. The Glitch? Again I do not show up in the digital directory! You can search for “Hunter”, which will get my friend Steve from Lewisburg too, but Burton Hunter, J. Burton Hunter, J. Burton Hunter III, and John Hunter, John B. Hunter, and John B. Hunter III will get you a message that I do not exist. I trust this will be quickly remedied too. Isn’t technology great?

3. The State Bar now has a Social Media Committee, and should soon have a FB “fan page”. Worries, GOD FORBID, that people will post criticism of lawyers should soon prove to be “no big deal”. Personal attacks on lawyers (SUCH AS ME!) can be quickly expunged. And, lawyers should have learned to have thick skins by now.

4. There is reason for the State Bar to be cautious. Former long time director Tom Tinder was an early adopter. My feeble memory has allowed the State Bar’s first Internet service to be lost to me, but it was innovative and gutsy to make the try. (Editors note: I think it was Tech Net!) I don’t think it ever quite worked out, but maybe I do it a disservice. I was impressed by that effort.

5. And, WE WERE HACKED! Yep, private information was compromised, and the Bar site was shut down for several months. That had to be traumatic for “the powers that be.”

6. Add to that that half of all divorce cases have Facebook evidence, and the caution of the State Bar makes very good sense. (I mediated a case today because the parties were “hoppin’ mad” over a FB post; a key to settlement was a letter faxed by the offender to the parties apologizing.)

7. And, keep in mind, you don’t work your way up in the WV State Bar, and the WV State Bar Association without getting some years on you. Getting to that stage of one’s career and profession means you and a survivor, and survivors have learned some caution. (Perhaps I am an exception to this rule, but not really. Everything is relative.)

8. But the writing is on the wall. Unless you have left the profession, (and have no friends on the Internet, no grand kids, no great grandchildren, and plan to live in a cave.) this powerful wave of almost instant communication is a permanent (and fluid) fact of life. If you doubt that it is fluid, just ask AOL and My Space!

9. NOW TO MY POINT…………..WAKE UP!!!!! This is it:

a. Now that the Bar has moved from it’s “800 number” (or maybe it still exists?) to the web, and now that the lawyer has at least entered his/her contact information, what happens when they click on your name?
b. The potential client goes to your site.
c. “My site?!”
d. Yes, your professional site; the one that tells them all about you. The one that an amazing percentage of small town lawyers DO NOT HAVE. (Yes, I am shouting. )

e. For me, if my potential client checks me out, she finds my Findlaw Site, my Twitter account, my professional Facebook Page, and my two blogs;   and

f. For many of you, YOU HAVE NOTHING!

g. So, if you want to get some referrals from the State Bar Referral Site, which should be heavily used, have a professional, if simple, site. State your credentials, have a way to reach you, respond promptly, and get to work doing better.

I am no spring chicken, but I think I am ahead of most of you in this area. It is an exciting and fun time to be a lawyer. We compete for clients, but, hell, we compete for a living, right? Not many professions aren’t competitive, at least for those with passion,

so jump in and get wet!

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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