By Rachel Coleman
A novel and unique pilot program between the Ventura County Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) and the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce brings new opportunities to local attorneys and local businesses. In light of the changing economy, Steven Lehat spearheaded this stimulating program to create a bridge between the needs of local business owners and to generate attorney referrals. The program provides Chamber members with referrals to local attorneys through its “Affinity Program.”
Many business owners do not consult an attorney until there is a problem. A “win-win” for both sides, the Affinity Program allows business owners to develop relationships with attorneys so they will be comfortable seeking guidance throughout the growth of their businesses. Attorneys will have the ability to mix and mingle with Chamber members at such monthly events as “Jump Start Networking Breakfasts,” “Lunch and Learn,” “Networking at Night Mixers” and other Chamber events.
Lehat is the driving force behind the Affinity Program. Since the early 90s, Lehat has created many other innovative programs between referral services and chambers of commerce across the United States. He developed a successful practice in the Newport Beach area specializing in intellectual property, securities and international trade. Recently, Lehat opened an office in Ventura County. Looking to contribute to the local legal community, Lehat joined the LRIS board in December 2010. The Chamber’s professionalism, commitment to its members, and their demographics motivated Lehat to pioneer the Affinity Program.
To receive referrals from Chamber members, attorneys must first enroll or already be members of LRIS. Next, attorneys contact Alex Varela-Guerra at VCBA, (805)650-7599 to obtain an application for the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce Pilot Program. Once enrolled, attorneys will be eligible to receive referrals from Chamber members. In exchange, attorneys should be committed to giving a discount to Chamber members on a case–by-case basis.
Attorneys enrolled in the pilot program will also have access to specific programs targeted at the business aspect of building and running a law practice. Each quarter will bring a different state-of-the-art program focused on assisting a law firm’’s function as a business. Attorneys will also have the opportunity to make 30-minute presentations about his or her area of expertise directly to Chamber members at “Lunch and Learn” events. Participation in this program will create great opportunities for attorneys not only to obtain new clients but also to build relationships within the local business community that may allow them to become long-term, trusted advisors.
Rachel Coleman is an associate attorney practicing business and civil litigation at DK Law Group. She is also a board member of Ventura County Barristers and a CITATIONS editorial board member.