If you are among the many Minnesota lawyers who still believe that referral fees are forbidden, it’s time to wake up! Referral fees are alive and well in Minnesota, and permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct to boot.
Rule 1.5 allows a division of fees between lawyers not in the same firm if:
(1) the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation;
(2) the client agrees to the arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is confirmed in writing, and;
(3) the total fee is reasonable.
Take a good look at the “OR” in (1) above–because it makes all the difference. So long as you assume joint responsibility, you can take a referral fee.
I hear you asking, “But, what the #%$# does “joint responsibility mean?” Take a look here and here. If those don’t shed enough light, Minnesota’s own Eric Cooperstein comes to the rescue with this.
There’s no doubt much to be said about referral fees (moral implications, whether it’s good business, whether clients are well served, etc.)–and it’s almost all beyond the scope of this post. I’m just putting the word out–referral fees are alive, well, and permissible in Minnesota.