Just like the kindergarten kids, lawyers also share casefiles on frequent occasions. For you to be a successful lawyer, you must always maintain a network of connected lawyers with whom they can share a case should the need arise. For instance, if a client approaches a lawyer with a case that is beyond his capability to handle, the lawyer will refer the case to another legible lawyer. Similarly, the lawyer may be so committed that he can’t handle the case brought forth to him. Hence, he will refer the client to another lawyer who can handle the case better. However, before engaging in such ethical and legal complexity, the parties must reach an agreement through an Attorney Referral Agreement.
What is an Attorney Referral Agreement?
An Attorney Referral Agreement simply refers to a legal recommendation of another attorney to do the legal work for another firm or lawyer. During this agreement, the referring lawyer agrees with the referred lawyer to pay a certain fee upon recommendation. The fee is usually negotiated between the lawyer or paralegal receiving the referral and the referring lawyer. As such, it isn’t dependent on market controls or regulations. Also, it’s important to note that the referral agreement is only limited to legal work.
Requirements for Signing an Attorney Referral Agreement
Before signing the Attorney Referral Agreement, the referring attorney should meet the following requirements.
- The client must be given consent on the Attorney Referral Agreement. In other words, before making the referral, it’s important to notify the client in advance. This makes him/her be aware of any fees or details associated.
- The referring attorney should not have a conflict of interest in the client’s case.
- The referring attorney must be an active practitioner with a valid license. In that case, if the attorney’s license is suspended at the time when the referral is made, then the agreement will be rendered invalid.
- The attorney receiving the referral should be active in their field of practice. Alongside this, they should be providing legal services through a civil society organization.
Note that failure to meet the above-stated requirements can lead to ethical violation with is chargeable in a court of law. Also, if either of the attorneys doesn’t satisfy the requirements, they won’t be eligible to receive any fee associated with the agreement.
How Many Numbers of Referrals Can a Referring Lawyer Make?
Usually, the referring lawyer should give the client at least two attorneys. However, there are some cases where the referral lawyer can give only one referral attorney suitable for the particular case. When the referring lawyer is unable to make two referrals, the referring attorney must explain to the client the reason why he recommends only one lawyer. This can either because of the level of expertise, geographical location, or specialization.
What a Client Needs to Know When Drafting the Attorney Referral Agreement
When engaging in an Attorney Referral Agreement, there is certain information a client needs to know. These includes:
- The client has the right to retain an attorney other than the one being referred. This means that the client can decide to stick by the referring attorney.
- The client doesn’t have an obligation to accept the referral.
- Reasons why the referring attorney has made recommendations to the specific attorney/paralegal
- The client should also know the relationship that exists between the referring attorney and the one receiving referrals.
- The client must also know the referral fee, modes of payment, and other associated details.
What If the Attorney Fails to Get the Client’s Consent When Making Referrals?
Legally, the attorney should seek the client’s consent when making referrals. Failure to do so can cause the Referral Agreement to become void. In some cases, when the client is not consulted when a case is being referred, there can be a misrepresentation. As such, the referring attorney can be charged with misconduct sanctions or sued for malpractice.
How to Write an Effective Attorney Referral Agreement
Referring to a case can be risky. Therefore, in order to avoid problems from happening, here are some of the things you can include in your referral agreement:
A Clear Expectation Of What’s Needed
Attorney Referral Agreement should clearly stipulate what is expected from each attorney. State the duties and responsibilities of each attorney as well as the expected outcome. This will help you minimize any misunderstandings from occurring.
Calculate Referral Fee
It’s equally important that you spell out the referral fee earlier in advance. Depending on the state, an attorney referral fee should be reasonable.
Refer Trusted And Reliable Attorneys
In your agreement, make sure the referred attorney is reliable and competent. Note that if you refer an incompetent attorney, you could be sued for malpractice. Therefore, it is important that you refer somebody you have the confidence to handle the client’s case.
Free Templates & Forms
Attorney Referral Agreement is common in the legal fields. They allow attorneys and paralegals to share or work together in a particular case. Therefore, if you are looking for a professionally drafted Attorney Referral Agreement, please go ahead and download our free templates.