Informal Opinion Number: 2018-05

Adoption Date: 2018

Rules: 4-1.5; 4-7.2
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Information About Legal Services
Subject: Advertising and Solicition; Fees - Division of Fees
Summary: referral fees not permitted; division of fees with another lawyer

Question: May Attorney A share a percentage portion of an earned contingent fee with Attorney B, who practices in another firm and is not licensed in Missouri, and who referred the case to Attorney A?
Answer: Attorney A may not pay a referral fee to Attorney B. Rule 4-7.2(c) prohibits Attorney A from giving anything of value to Attorney B for recommending the lawyer’s services. Attorney A may divide the fee with Attorney B only if the division of fee complies with Rule 4-1.5(e). The rule allows the sharing of a fee if the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or if each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation; if the client agrees to the association, confirmed in writing; and if the total fee is reasonable.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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