These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
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38-Fee Splitting

Fee-splitting is permissible as long as both lawyers take "responsibility" for the case. "The mere recommendation or referral of a case to another lawyer, with nothing further, does not constitute assumption of responsibility. Furthermore, the legal services provided must be "meaningful," rather than merely the performance of "ministerial or mechanical tasks." If both lawyers assume responsibility, the fee-splitting need not be in proportion to the services performed, as long as the client consents to the fee division. [This LEO was overruled by Rule 1.5(e), which does not require that a lawyer sharing in fees also share responsibility, thus allowing "referral fees" if the client consents after full disclosure.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn