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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LEO NumTopicsSummary

8-Bills and Fees

38-Fee Splitting

A lawyer representing a lender in collecting on a defaulted note that included a provision requiring the borrower to pay attorney's fees equal to 25% of the principal balance due may give the client/lender any portion of the 25% that exceeds the actual cost of the legal services. The 25% attorney's fee provision is "an agreed upon contract term" which provides "commercial certainty for all parties." Allowing the nonlawyer client/lender to receive a portion of the 25% does not threaten the "independent judgment of an attorney from improper nonlawyer interference," and therefore does not amount to an unethical sharing of legal fees with a nonlawyer [overruling LEOs 534, 835 and 1025 to the extent that they are inconsistent].

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn