Rotunda on Ethics of Online Lawyer Matching Services

Online lawyer-client matching services may be subject to ethical considerations says Professor Ronald Rotunda in a Lawyers USA article that looks at the phenomenal growth of these services, which a Reuters analysis estimates serve four million people per month, with that number expected to climb to nine million within the next year.

Online matching services trying to connect lawyers and clients, Lawyers USA, November 20, 2006. By Dick Dahl.

"Ronald D. Rotunda, a professor at George Mason University School of Law, believes that lawyer matching services give rise to several ethical questions.

"'The rule is: Normally, you can't split legal fees with a non-lawyer,' he said. 'And these are non-lawyers.'

"On the other hand, he said, under ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2 regarding lawyer advertising, lawyers are permitted to pay for reasonable advertising costs associated with 'a qualified lawyer referral service' that has been 'approved by an appropriate regulatory authority.'

"Rotunda also questioned how effectively matching services inform consumers that the lawyers they may contact through the site are only ones who have paid to be part of it."