Ethics Involved in DC Injury Referrals

The following is what you should know regarding ethical conflicts and other problems which may arise through attorney referrals. To learn more call and schedule a consultation with a DC injury lawyer today.

Ethical Issues Involved in Referrals

One of the ethical issues concerning referrals in DC is that the referral must be disclosed to the client.  Simply stated, there cannot be any information withheld from the client. If a case is referred to an attorney or the attorney receives the referral, that information must be disclosed to the client.

What Duty Exists For You to Supervise Counsel

A duty to supervise counsel really depends upon the level of responsibility that is spelled out in the joint retainer agreement or the consent to associate agreement.

Is There Any Liability On Your Part?

The liability is really dependent upon the level of involvement of the attorneys and the manner in which the fees are going to be split. If the referring attorney expects to receive an equal share of the recovered fee, then the referring attorney should understand that he has equal liability with co-counsel.

Conflicts of Interest That May Exist

Typically, a lawyer refers a client to another lawyer because the lawyer has a conflict of interest with the perspective client and therefore the attorney cannot represent the perspective client. The nature of the conflict really depends on the facts of that particular case. For example, if there is an automobile accident involving two vehicles, and there are two occupants of one vehicle (a driver and a passenger) and both occupants of one vehicle want to sue the driver of the second vehicle, there is potentially a conflict of interest between the driver and passenger because the driver may eventually be liable to the passenger.

The Rules of Professional Conduct in the District of Columbia are designed to protect the client from a conflict of interest and spell out what the attorney needs to do when a conflict arises.

Ethical Issues Regarding Referral Fees

Ethical issues can always come up whenever a referral is made. It really depends upon the particular circumstances of that case and the nature of the referral. Whenever a referral is made, an attorney should refer back to the Rules of Professional Conduct to ensure that the referral was done properly.

Referring Clients to Lawyers in Other Jurisdictions

Typically when a case is referred out-of-state, the referral fee of the foreign state controls the relationship between the attorneys. Again, this is an issue that has to be called out in writing between the attorneys and agreed to before the client accepts the addition of co-counsel.

When the referral occurs in-state, in that scenario both attorneys are familiar with the referral-fee scenario of that particular state. They can reach an agreement in writing and disclose it to the client there. In general, the processes are handled the same but the manner in which the fee splits or any uniqueness to that foreign state would control the referral agreement if the referral was going out-of-state.