You hear about it all the time. Some lawyers pay out big referral fees to non-lawyers, which is prohibited in Ontario and elsewhere. In the U.S., the Associated Press has reported that one lawyer finally had enough of what he saw: a Norwich, Connecticut resident and bankruptcy lawyer (Zenas Zelotes) claimed that improper referrals were being made through internet websites run by Chicago’s Total Attorneys Inc. (e.g. www.totaldivorce.com and www.totaldui.com). Zelotes said he filed more than 550 complaints in 47 states. So far, Connecticut’s chief disciplinary counsel has found probable cause against 5 of 12 attorneys named by Zelotes in his complaints. The national scope of the complaints is drawing significant attention from legal circles. No doubt, important legal and ethical issues will likely arise as this matter progresses, perhaps even setting precedents concerning the interaction of lawyer referral websites and lawyers.
Source: James Mosher, “Norwich lawyer files hundreds of ethics complaints over colleagues’ Web advertising”, Noriwch Bulletin (September 13, 2009).
Please Note: Dynamic Legal Forms does not charge lawyers referral fees in any way whatsoever.