July 26, 2017
The “tech-savvy” lawyer should have researched this process in NJ before “making legal easier…” .
Lawyers are held to strict ethical practices for obtaining clients. It is well known that lawyers cannot share a legal fee with a non-lawyer in violation of Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2 c and 7.3 d.
In Summary, Avvo has the following process:
Offers two services
- Purchase 15 minute flat fee telephone conversation with a lawyer for a flat fee. User pays the fee to Avvo, contacts participating lawyers and the fist lawyer who responds to Avvo get the job.
- Select a lawyer form the Avvo profiles of participating lawyers. After the telephone call is complete, Avvo electronically deposits the flat fee into the lawyer’s bank account and then withdraws a “marketing fee”)
Avvo suggests that the deposit be made into the lawyer’s trust account, and the withdrawal be taken from the lawyer’s operating account.
Brief explanation of why participated in Avvo is not permitted:
Rule 7.2 c A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services…
Rule 7.3 d Lawyers shall not compensation or give anything of value to a person or organization to recommend or secure the lawyer’s employment by a client, or as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in the lawyer’s employment by the client…..
You should not go on-line to find or get legal professional advice and it is clear: NJ attorneys cannot participate in AVVO.
When you are looking to hire an attorney, it is not a retail product. Legal services are vital services and you should seek a professional attorney. While it is OK to find an attorney on-line, it is always prudent to meet with an attorney face-to-face.
Suggestion: When looking for an attorney, search for a Certified Attorney in the field you are looking for advice. Board Certified attorneys know the rules and are held to strict standards to stay certified.
Reference ACPE, CAA, & UPL June 21, 2017
ACPE Joint Opinion 732, CAA Joint Opinion 44, UPL Joint Opinion 54