General Referral in DC Injury Cases
A referral is when one attorney refers a client to another attorney. This is done typically by word of mouth where a client consults with an attorney and the attorney for whatever reason doesn’t feel comfortable taking the case, but refers the client to someone else who should be in a better position to assist. Consult with one of our DC personal injury lawyers to learn more about referrals.
General Rules for Referral
The general rules for getting a referral are simply that the client understands that the referral has occurred and that there is a full disclosure of any relationship between the two attorneys.
Referral Fees & Fee-Splitting in DC
A referral fee is allowed in DC, so long as the client is aware of the referral fee. Referral fees can really depend upon the agreement entered into between the attorneys. Either there is a flat or fixed fee that is agreed to in writing or the attorneys will split the fee based upon their level or percentage of participation.
A fee-splitting relationship is essentially what it sounds like. It must be a written agreement between the attorneys as to how the fee will be split. The Rules of Professional Conduct in the District of Columbia require the fee-splitting agreement to be disclosed to the client.
The client always has to know how the attorney’s fees will be split and the total amount of attorney’s fees that will ultimately be paid in a case.
Differences Between Referral Fee & Fee-Splitting
A referral fee is typically a flat fee or an agreed-upon amount that is paid to the referring attorney for his/her role in the case. A fee-splitting relationship is typically a written agreement that is entered into between two attorneys describing how the fee will be split. Typically, the fee split is based upon that particular attorney’s level of involvement in the case.
All of these agreements have to be disclosed with the client. The client must have a clear understanding as to how much, or what percentage, each attorney will be paid in that case.
Involvement of Referred Attorney in DC
How involved the lawyer is really depends upon the type of referral. If the attorney is going to refer the case and not participate in the case, then that issue needs to be addressed in the referral agreement. If the attorney is going to participate in the case, depending upon whatever is needed of that attorney, then that issue needs to be addressed as well. Typically, the amount of involvement correlates directly to the fees paid.
Why Cases Are Referred
Whenever a case is referred to another firm, it’s done for any number of reasons. For example, if a case has to be referred to another jurisdiction, say it’s Florida, then the level of involvement of the referring attorney diminishes because the case will have to proceed according to the Florida law and will be handled in Florida.
If a case is referred to another attorney locally, in the same jurisdiction, where both attorneys practice, then in that scenario both attorneys may work on the claim collaboratively.
The level of involvement of a particular attorney really depends upon the facts and circumstances of that individual case and the reason the case is referred to another attorney.