The Florida Bar
OPINION 74-47A law firm may properly divide fees for referred cases with a lawyer suffering from terminal illness or the lawyer's estate in proportion to the services performed by the lawyer referring the cases.
March 6, 1975
March 6, 1975
CPR: DR 2-107(A)(1), 2-107(A)(2), 3-102(A)(2) and EC 2-22
Opinions: 72-33, 73-3
Vice Chairman Sullivan stated the opinion of the committee:
This inquiry involves the question of division of legal fees.
An attorney who was closing his office and discontinuing his practice because of a terminal illness referred two cases to the law firm submitting this inquiry. While the inquiry does not give particulars about the amount of work performed and responsibility assumed by the referring attorney and by the law firm to which the cases were referred, it is clear that most of the work and responsibility was performed and assumed by the latter.
We are asked whether the law firm to which the matters were referred may properly divide the fees it received for handling those matters with the estate of the deceased attorney.
In Opinion 72-33 and again in Opinion 73-3, the Committee stated that under DR 2-107(A) a division of fees between lawyers is proper only if the division is made in proportion to the services performed and responsibilities assumed by each lawyer. That division should bear a reasonable relationship to the division of services and responsibility, and, of course, the requirements of DR 2-107(A)(1) and (2) must also be met. EC 2-22 reiterates the same principle as does DR 3-102(A)(2), which deals with division of fees between a lawyer who completes unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer and the deceased lawyer's estate.
The Committee, then, is of the opinion that the firm to which the cases were referred may divide the fees it received with the deceased attorney's estate provided that division is in proportion to services performed and responsibility assumed by the deceased lawyer and the firm to which he referred the cases.