LEO: Corporations - Fees - Division of Fees LE Op. 844
Corporations - Fees - Division of Fees Among Related Law Firms.
September 2, 1986
A group of law firms desires to incorporate for the principal purpose of
making the specialized expertise and experience of the attorneys in each
member firm available to the attorneys in all member firms. The committee
finds no ethical problem with regard to the formation of the group or any
related potential activities such as seminars, employment of an executive
director, computer capacity common to all, common stationery and a central
office. The only potential problems foreseen by the committee are with
regard to conflicts and division of fees. The committee opines that, as
long as all clients of the group are aware of all the members and full
disclosure is made to the client, any potential problems may be resolved.
The fee-sharing arrangement will be one whereby a member of the group may
refer a matter to another attorney in a different area. Fees will be
shared by the "referring" and "working" attorney. Disciplinary Rule 2-105(
D) [ DR:2-105] does not appear to require proportionment provided that
the client consents to the employment of additional counsel, both
attorneys expressly assume responsibility to the client, and the terms of
the division of the fee are disclosed to the client and the client
In addition to dividing fees between the "referring" and "working"
attorneys, it is proposed that dues equal to five percent of the fee be
paid to the corporation, which five percent is to defer some of the
expenses of the operation of the entity itself. Disciplinary Rule 2-102(B) [
DR:2-102] prohibits an attorney from compensating a person or
organization from recommending or securing employment by a client.
Provided there is compliance with the disciplinary rules set forth under
Canon 2, the Committee finds no problem with the proposed five percent
division. Further, if specific dues are charged for specific services and
any payments made to the entity by the members are dues rather than a
division of legal fees, then there is no division of legal fees with a
nonlawyer as contemplated under Canon 3. [ DR:2-102(B) and DR:2-105(D)]
Committee Opinion September 2, 1986
See also LE Op. 1130.