Bar Rules

Formal Advisory Opinion No. 94-1

Ethics & Discipline / Advisory Opinions / Formal Advisory Opinions / Formal Advisory Opinion No. 94-1

State Bar of Georgia
Issued by the Supreme Court of Georgia
On September 9, 1994
Formal Advisory Opinion No. 94-1


On June 9, 2004, the Supreme Court of Georgia amended Georgia Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3.  As a result, this formal advisory opinion no longer provides an accurate interpretation of the ethical rules.  Please see Rule 7.3 (c)(2) which adequately addresses the issue discussed in this opinion.

For an explanation regarding the addition of headnotes to the opinion, click here.

Ethical Propriety of Lawyer Referral Service Collecting a Percentage of Fees in Certain Cases Referred to Participating Attorneys by the Service

Any division of attorney's fees with a lawyer referral service constitutes the sharing of fees with a nonlawyer in violation of Standard 26 of Bar Rule 4-102.

Correspondent represents a local bar association that operates a non-profit lawyer referral service.  The inquiry concerns the ethical propriety of the lawyer referral service collecting a percentage of fees in certain cases referred to participating attorneys by the service.

Standard 26 of Bar Rule 4-102 provides in pertinent part that a lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a nonlawyer.

While the membership of the local bar association is composed of lawyers who are licensed to practice law in the state, the local bar association, in and of itself, has no authority to engage in the practice of law.  Therefore, any division of attorney's fees with a lawyer referral service would constitute the sharing of fees with a nonlawyer in violation of Standard 26 of Bar Rule 4-102.

Moreover, "[a] lawyer shall not compensate or give anything of value to a person or organization...as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in his [or her] employment by a client."  The lawyer may pay only "the usual and reasonable fees or dues charged by a bona fide lawyer referral service operated by an organization authorized by law...." Standard 13(b).
 



GO TO Formal Advisory Opinion No. 93-4
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