NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONCommittee on
Opinion #317 - 12/18/1973
Topic: Division of fees among lawyers
Digest: Lawyers for different parties may not pool fees and share in
the combined total.
Code: DR 2-107(A)(2); EC 2-22; Canon 9
May lawyers for parties having different interests in the same
transaction pool their respective fees and share equally in the combined
Lawyers, who each represent different interests in the same
transaction cannot by agreement allocate the work responsibility between
them, individually bill their respective clients for the services
performed, combine or "pool" the fees and, after adjusting
disbursements, share the combined fee equally even with the consent of
the clients. DR 2-107 (A) (2).
Where the services performed and the responsibilities assumed by each
lawyer are different in scope, unequal fees would be produced.
Therefore, the proposed arrangement for "pooling" of fees is clearly
prohibited by the Code which provides that a lawyer shall not divide a
fee for legal services with another lawyer who is not a partner in or
associate of his law firm or law office unless the division is made in
proportion to the services performed and responsibility assumed by each.
DR 2-107 (A)(2); See also EC 2-22; N.Y. State 32 (1966).
Not only does the 'pooling" of fees violate the above cited
provisions of the Code but it also gives rise to the appearance of
impropriety in violation of Canon 9. See, Edelman v. Levy, 42 A.D. 2d
758, 346 N.Y.S. 2d 347 (2d Dept. 1973).