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ABA Clarifies Referral fees Between Lawyers in Formal Ethics Opinion 474

On April 21, 2016, the American Bar Association ("ABA") Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released Formal Opinion 474, addressing referral fees under Model Rule 1.5(e) and the impact of conflicts of interest under Model Rule 1.7. The opinion makes clear that pursuant to Model Rule 1.5(e)(1) a lawyer may only receive a fee from referring a case to another lawyer not in the same firm if the referring attorney performs legal services for the client on that referred matter or assumes joint responsibility for the representation. Rule 1.5(e)(2-3) further mandates that the client must agree to such fee arrangement in writing, including the share each lawyer will receive, and that the total fee must be reasonable. More ›