101 N.J.L.J. 341
April 13, 1978
Lawyer Referral Service
Requiring Forwarding Fee
A bar association has established a lawyer referral service.
The by-laws provide that if a panel member receives a net fee above
$250, "the referral service is entitled to a forwarding fee of
one-third (33 1/3%) over that amount." A question has arisen as to
whether it is proper for a member to pay this fee.
Lawyer referral services fill a distinct need in providing legal assistance for many people. The Disciplinary Rules have recognized this and accordingly exceptions for such organizations
have been carved out of the prohibition involving recommendation of professional employment.
DR 2 deals with publicity and advertising in general. DR 2-103 deals specifically with recommendation of professional employment and subsection D(3) provides as an exception to the general prohibitions enunciated by the rule that a lawyer may be recommended, employed, paid by or cooperate with "[a] lawyer referral service operated, sponsored or approved by a bar association." DR 2-103(C)(l) further provides that any attorney "may request referrals from a lawyer referral service operated, sponsored or approved by a bar association and may pay its fees incident thereto."