Following is the 57th post in a series from Parker Taylor Law Group about recent changes to the California Bar Association (CBA)’s Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC). This rule is found in Chapter 7 – “Information About Legal Services,” with the focus on advertising related to an attorney compensating or giving anything of value in exchange for their legal services.
This Rule of Professional Conduct, as revised, is as follows:
Rule 7.2(b) Advertising
A lawyer shall not compensate, promise or give anything of value to a person for the purpose of recommending or securing the services of the lawyer or the lawyer’s law firm, except that a lawyer may:
(1) pay the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications permitted by this rule;
(2) pay the usual charges of a legal services plan or a qualified lawyer referral service. A qualified lawyer referral service is a lawyer referral service established, sponsored and operated in accordance with the State Bar of California’s Minimum Standards for a Lawyer Referral Service in California;
(3) pay for a law practice in accordance with rule 1.17;
(4) refer clients to another lawyer or a non-lawyer professional pursuant to an arrangement not otherwise prohibited under these Rules or the State Bar Act that provides for the other person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer, if:
(i) the reciprocal referral arrangement is not exclusive; and
(ii) the client is informed of the existence and nature of the arrangement;
(5) offer or give a gift or gratuity to a person having made a recommendation resulting in the employment of the lawyer or the lawyer’s law firm, provided that the gift or gratuity was not offered or given in consideration of any promise, agreement, or understanding that such a gift or gratuity would be forthcoming or that referrals would be made or encouraged in the future.
Although part of Rule 7.2(b) in CBA’s revised RPC replaces the previous RPC’s Rule 2-200(B) – as described in post 44, the new rule also replaces Rule 1-320(A)(4) and (B)-(C) of the previous RPC. The main difference between the two rules in the previous version is that Rule 2-200 was titled “Financial Agreements Between Lawyers,” while Rule 1-320 was titled “Financial Agreements with Non-Lawyers.”
The American Bar Association (ABA) Model RPC lists almost exactly the same regulations for advertising in Rule 7.2(b) that the CBA’s revised RPC lists in its Rule 7.2(b). The main differences are found in sub-subdivisions (2) and (5). The ABA’s descriptions of the “usual charges of a legal services plan or a … qualified lawyer referral service” and the “offer of a gift or gratuity” are simpler than those found in the CBA’s version.
Benefit: Generally speaking, this rule has clarified the rules surrounding methods that attorneys are allowed to use in promoting themselves, making it less likely that individuals seeking future legal representation will be contacted by disreputable attorneys.
The information provided herein is informational only and should not be construed as legal advice or as an agreement for representation. This is not an advertisement. If you have an issue or dispute with your attorney, or are seeking advice with respect to your obligations, you should consult with an experienced attorney. Parker Taylor Law Group is a full-service litigation and transactional law firm. Mr. Parker has represented clients in professional malfeasance disputes for over 23 years. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with Mr. Parker or his team, you can reach them at (916) 996-0400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. (An email to the law firm requesting a consultation does not create an attorney-client relationship or any agreement for representation by the firm.)
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