Legal Ethics Opinion #1598
      Sharing Legal Fees with a Nonlawyer: Attorney Licensing
      Fee Determined By Attorney's Legal Fees.
      You have presented a hypothetical situation in which a town
    desires to charge attorneys a license fee which is based
    solely upon the amount of legal fees generated by the
    attorney. The license fee would be a percentage of any and all
    fees generated anywhere by the resident attorney.
      You have asked the committee to opine whether, under the
    facts of the inquiry, an attorney may ethically split fees
    with a town.
      The appropriate and controlling Disciplinary Rule related to
    your inquiry is  DR 3-102(A), which provides that a lawyer
    shall not share legal fees with a nonlawyer.
      The committee is of the opinion, however, that it would not
    be ethically improper for an attorney to pay ordinary and
    customary gross receipts taxes assessed by a local or other
    government entity which has the statutory authority to collect
    taxes. The committee does not find such payment of a license
    tax, based on the total amount of monies earned, to be
    violative of the  DR 3-102(A) prohibition against sharing fees
    with a nonlawyer. The committee believes that the thrust of
    the proscription in  DR 3-102(A) is that a lawyer and a
    nonlawyer enter into a consensual arrangement whereby fees
    received from one or more clients are divided between them.
    Payment of a gross receipts tax, in common understanding, is
    not a consensual arrangement violative of  DR 3-102(A). 
      Committee Opinion
      June 14, 1994