LEO: Attorney - Trade Association  LE Op. 1035


Attorney - Trade Association.


February 19, 1988


You advise that you have been asked to join a Trade and Barter

Association. As part of its operation, the trade association charges all

members a ten percent charge for acting as a clearinghouse in the various

trades. When one participates in a trade, one obtains "trading dollars"

which are used to purchase other goods or services which other members of

the association have to offer. You also advise that the trade association

wishes to list you as an attorney and perhaps refer business to you.


You ask three questions relative to the above. The Committee will answer

these questions in the order presented in your letter. Your first question

is whether the ten percent charge by the clearing association would be

considered splitting a fee with a nonlawyer. Disciplinary Rule 3-102

states that "A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a

nonlawyer. ..." Assuming that the ten percent charge is equivalent to the

cash value of the services rendered, the Committee believes this violates



Your second question is whether it is improper for the trade association

to list you as an attorney. Disciplinary Rule 2-102(A) [ DR:2-102]

provides that "A lawyer or law firm may use or participate in the use of a

professional card, professional announcement card, office sign,

letterheads, telephone directory listing, law list, legal directory

listing or a similar professional notice or device, unless it includes a

statement or claim that is false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive." As

long as the trade association makes no false, fraudulent, misleading or

deceptive claim, it would not be improper for the association to list you

as an attorney. The Committee, however, also directs you to DR:2-101(B),

which states that "a public communication for which a lawyer has given

value must be identified as such unless it is apparent from the context

that it is such a communication."


Your third question is whether the Trade and Barter Association may refer

business to you. Disciplinary Rule 2-103(D) [ DR:2-103] states that "A

lawyer shall not compensate or give anything of value to a person or

organization to recommend or secure his employment by a client, or as a

reward for having made a recommendation resulting in his employment by a

client, except that he may pay for public communications permitted by DR:

2-101 and the usual and reasonable fees or dues charged by a lawyer

referral service and any qualified legal services plan or contract of

legal services insurance as authorized by law, provided that such

communication of the service or plan is in accordance with the standards

of DR:2-101 or DR:2-104, as appropriate." Should the Trade and Barter

Association refer business to you, it would appear that the ten percent

fee was compensation for the referral. To do so would violate the

provisions of DR:2-103(D).


Committee Opinion February 19, 1988