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Ethics Question of the Week: Can I refer clients in exchange for referrrals?

Q.  Can I refer clients to another lawyer or nonlawyer in exchange for referrals from them?

A.  IRPC 7.2(b)(4) states that a “lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services except that a lawyer may (4) refer clients to another lawyer or nonlawyer professional pursuant to an agreement not otherwise prohibited under these Rules that provides for the other person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer if (i) the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive, and (ii) the client is informed of the existence and nature of the agreement.”  Comment 8 to this rule goes on to state that such an arrangement must not interfere with the lawyer’s professional judgment.  For further discussion, see ISBA Advisory Opinion 12-03 as well as the full text to rule 7.2 

ISBA members can browse past ISBA Ethics Opinions, access our Ethics Hotline, and other resources on the ISBA Ethics Page.

[Disclaimer. These questions are representative of calls received on the ISBA’s ethics hotline. The information provided below is meant as an educational tool to highlight potentially applicable Illinois RPC or other ethics resources that might help the lawyer answer the question posed. The information provided isn’t legal advice. Because every situation is different, often complex, and the law is constantly evolving, you shouldn’t rely upon this general information without conducting your own research.]

Posted on August 27, 2014 by Chris Bonjean
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