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August 15, 2017
Proposed advisory opinion on lawyer referral service fees

The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics will consider adopting a proposed advisory opinion at the direction of The Florida Bar Board of Governors based on an inquiry by a member of The Florida Bar, at a meeting to be held on Thursday, December 7, 2017, from 1-3 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. There are no drafts for the committee’s consideration at this time. The proposed advisory opinion will address different types of fee arrangements between for-profit lawyer referral services who are otherwise in compliance with Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and participating lawyers. The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar prohibit lawyers from dividing fees with for-profit lawyer referral services. Examples of different types of fee arrangements which may be addressed by the proposed advisory opinion include charging a flat fee per time period such as weekly, monthly, or yearly; charging a flat fee per case referred to a participating lawyer; charging a flat fee per case referred to a participating lawyer that differs based on the type of matter (e.g., personal injury versus family law); charging a flat fee per case accepted by a participating lawyer; charging a flat fee per case accepted by a participating lawyer that differs based on the type of matter (e.g., personal injury versus family law); charging a fee based on the perceived value of the case referred to a participating lawyer; charging a differing flat fee based on the perceived value of a type of matter referred to participating lawyers; and charging a fee that is a percentage of the recovery or a percentage of the fee charged by the participating lawyer. Pursuant to Procedures 6(d) and (e) of The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics, comments from Florida Bar members are solicited on the issues presented. Comments must contain Proposed Advisory Opinion number 17-2, must clearly state the issues for the committee to consider, may offer suggestions for additional fee arrangements to be addressed by the proposed advisory opinion, and may include a proposed conclusion. Comments should be submitted to Elizabeth Clark Tarbert, Ethics Counsel, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300, and must be postmarked no later than 30 days from the date of this publication.

[Revised: 05-23-2018]