Kansas Attorneys – The Ethics of Referring Cases

Case referrals in the practice of law are rather ordinary, as not every attorney is able to handle any given type of case.  For example, if you are a family law attorney and receive a call from a potential client regarding a personal injury matter, you would likely refer that potential case to another attorney who may have more experience with that area of the law.

The simple act of referring a case from one attorney or law firm to another in and of itself is rather harmless.  After all, it is in the client’s best interest that he or she is receiving quality and competent legal advice from an attorney with the relevant skill and experience to handle that particular type of case.  However, there is a slippery slope that all Kansas attorneys should be aware of.

When referring a case to another attorney or law firm, the referring attorney cannot be compensated if he or she did absolutely no work on the case.  On the other hand, if an attorney investigates a potential case on his or her own, and does any other type of work on the case, that attorney may be able to receive compensation for that work.  For example, if you are a personal injury attorney, and you have “worked up” a car accident case, such as obtaining medical records, filing a complaint, and any other legal work associated with the case, you do have a legitimate stake in the case if you ultimately refer it to another attorney, whatever the reason may be for the referral.

One problem associated with the referral of cases occurs when attorneys do minimal or no work on a case, yet expect to get a percentage or some other measured compensation, and this is in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, both in Kansas, and in all other states.  Not all attorneys are aware of the scope of the rules regarding case referrals, and they may receive compensation for a case they may not have done any work on, simply because of a misunderstanding of the rules, and not through any intentional misconduct.

The “Referral Fee”

Many attorneys speak in terms of “referral fees,” and this can get them into trouble because there’s a connotation that an attorney can get a fee simply for sending a case along to someone else.  While most attorneys understand that a “referral fee” cannot be obtained unless legitimate work was done on the referring case, some attorneys mistakenly or unintentionally cross the line that is drawn by the Rules of Professional Conduct.

It is also crucial to have an understanding that a referral mean is not really what it says.  A referral fee that many attorneys speak of is simply the compensation the referring attorney is entitled to for the work he or she has done on the case.  The Kansas Office of Disciplinary Administrator would certainly take issue with an attorney who is essentially receiving payment for sending a case on to another attorney or law firm.  As such, you should take all measures possible to ensure your current referral practices comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys.

Contact Danielle Sanger of the Sanger Law Office Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation

While you may not be at risk for losing your Kansas law license, it is still important that you are aware that disciplinary action is possible if you do not adhere to the rules of professional conduct when referring cases to other attorneys.  To ensure that you have a full understanding, you should consider speaking with a Kansas Professional License Defense Attorney.  Danielle Sanger of the Sanger Law Office devotes her law practice to helping her clients fight to keep their Kansas professional licenses, no matter what the particular profession may be.  As a former Assistant Attorney General of Kansas, Danielle Sanger has unique experience that allows her to better prepare and represent her clients’ interests and rights.  If you would like to speak with Danielle Sanger, contact the Sanger Law Office today by calling (785) 979-4353 to schedule your free consultation.