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Co-counsel and referral relationships are common in law practice. Lawyers associate with other lawyers on cases to gain specialized knowledge required for competent representation in a case. Litigation counsel may seek local counsel on a case in another jurisdiction. Lawyers also refer out business for a variety of reasons, including overflow work or the work is outside of a lawyer’s core competencies.
These any many other co-counsel and referral relationships, however, raise substantial ethical and malpractice issues.
This program provides a framework for understanding the ethical issues surrounding co-counsel and referral relationships.
- Duty to supervise counsel to whom you have referred work
- Associating with other lawyers or firms to gain competence in specific areas
- Fee splitting in co-counsel or referral relationships
- Liability to co-counsel for breaches of fiduciary duty or malpractice
- Liability for errors of co-counsel
- Duty to inform of malpractice by co-counsel