Although ultimately, each attorney is individually responsible for satisfying jurisdictional ethics requirements, PowerUpLegal has engaged in due diligence regarding the ethics of its proposed business model and has concluded that it does not run afoul of prohibitions on “fee sharing” for several reasons.
First, in the majority of cases, PowerUp Legal attorneys will be engaged by other law firms or general counsel within companies. Thus, the relationship of the PowerUp Legal attorney to the hiring firm is more in the nature of a sub-contractor than a traditional attorney-client arrangement to which fee-splitting prohibitions customarily apply.
Our opinion that PowerUp Legal’s arrangement is not fee splitting would not change even in situations where the PowerUp attorney is engaged directly by a non-lawyer “end user.” Nor would the arrangement constitute payment of a fee in exchange for a referral. Both the ABA and a number of jurisdictions hold that lawyers may permissibly pay the reasonable cost of advertising and communications in exchange for receiving a case (as in a pay-per-click arrangement).