December 6, 2011
Fees For Non-Lawyer Referrals May Be OK
The Legal Ethics Committee of the District of Columbia Bar has just issued an opinion on the circumstances under which a lawyer may accept a fee for referring a client to a non-lawyer entity:
A lawyer who refers a client to a non–lawyer service provider such as a financial services firm may accept compensation from the provider for the referral so long as the criteria of Rule 1.7(c) and, if applicable, Rules 1.8(a) and 5.7 are satisfied. Those criteria are exacting, however, and the arrangement may be beyond the lawyer’s malpractice coverage even if permitted by the Rules.
The opinion overrules in part an earlier opinion of the committee.
The arrangement must comply with rules governing conflicts of interest (Rule 1.7), business transactions with clients (rule 1.8) and responsibilities regarding law-related services (Rule 5.7).
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