Posted: January 4, 2015
As a Cincinnati Ohio personal injury attorney clients come to me through many different ways. A big source of clients is through referrals from other lawyers that do not do personal injury claims.
The law is so vast that focusing on certain areas of law for attorneys is a must. No one lawyer can adequately do everything. Many attorneys recognize that they could try to handle a personal injury claim such as a car accident harm, but also realize this is not something they have done in the past. So without experience in the field they are at a disadvantage and may actually end up doing the client a disservice by representing them. They may be a lawyer that emphasizes estates, divorce, bankruptcy or other matters ouside the personal injury area.
The legal system favors getting the right case to the right attorney. That is why the rules of ethics allow an attorney to refer a client to another lawyer that is actually experienced in this area, such as bodily harm claims against insurance companys, and still share in the fee. There is a monetary incentive to refer the case on to a more experienced lawyer.
There are certain ethical paramaters in Ohio that need to be met in order to do this. First be aware that the client is not being charged an extra fee. The regular fee is being charged, but the lawyers are now splitting it. In many cases the fee share may be 66 2/3 % to 75% to the lawyer doing the bulk of the work. As an example, if the fee charged the client was 1/3 of the gross recovery, the total lawyer's fee would be $33,333.33. If the lawyer's agree among themselves, with the client's consent and knowledge, to split the fee 1/3 and 2/3 then the lawyer doing the work would get $22,222.22 and the referring lawyer would get $11,111.11.
How Fee Sharing Is Done Ethically In Ohio
The Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility sets down some mandatory rules regading referral of clients and fee sharing.http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/LegalResources/Rules/ProfConduct/profConductRules.pdf
Paraphrasing the rule it states that the fee sharing must be made : 1. with prior consent of the client, 2. must be in proportion to the services performed or by written agreement if all lawyers assume responsiblity for the representation and agree to be available for consultation 3. the split to the lawyers is disclosed in writing to the client 4.the total fee is reasonable 5. A written closing statement signed by the lawyers and the clients discloses the fee received.
The Mechanics of a Referral
My practice on getting a referral is to ask the referring lawyer to have the client call me to schedule an appointment. The referring lawyer can come if they wish. I have the client sign my fee contract, Then an addendum to the fee contract is prepared listing the fee sharing agreement, agreeing that all lawyers witll assume respsonsiblity and be available for consultation and all parties sign it.
At the end of the case the written settlement agreement is prepared by me and circulated for all parties and lawyers to sign.
Welcome Referrals For Personal Injury Claims
Referral arrangements have been around for many years. The State Supreme Courts usually sets the rules for referrals. The referral arrangement should comply with the out of state attorney's jurisdiction as well. Although this is rarer than referrals between attorneys in State it still happens. So both state jurisdictions apply and must be followed..Some states may not even allow a referral fee under certain circumstances.
As a personal injury lawyer with over 30 years experience I welcome other Ohio or local Cincinnati attorneys referring clients so that I may handle the personal injury claim to the best of my ability. I keep the lawyer informed of the progress. I let the client know I am the "lead" lawyer and they should first go through me, but if they feel they need to discuss something with the other lawyer they are free to do so.
I also welcome out of state attorneys referring me clients for personal injury.These are usually car or motorcycle accidents that occur in Ohio. Over the years I have been honored to "co-counsel" with in state or out of state attorneys.
About The Author
Anthony Castelli has extensive experience in personal injury claims. He has settled or tried thousands of cases over the span of 30 years. He has given seminars to other lawyers on personal injury matters. He offers a free constation and is always happy to work with associate counsel for the best interests of the wrongfully injured client. He is a member of the Amercian Association for justice, the Ohio Association for Justice and numerous other organizations.
Anthony Castell Attorney
8170 Corprorate Park Drive Suite 220
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242