NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONCommittee on
Opinion #238 - 03/17/1972
Topic: Referral Service
Digest: Improper to permit referrals from organizations not operating
an approved lawyer referral service
Code: Canon 2; EC 2-15; DR 2-103
May a lawyer permit his name to be included on a referral list
prepared by a local civil liberties organization for cases which are not
accepted because they do not involve a civil liberties issue?
The legal profession has an obligation to make legal counsel
available to the members of the public. Canon 2. To fulfill the
obligation, the profession has developed lawyer referral systems for
individuals who are able to pay fees but need assistance in locating
competent Lawyers to handle their problems. EC 2-15. However, such
referral systems should be operated as contemplated by DR 2-103. DR
2-103 (C) provides:
"A lawyer shall not request a person or organization to recommend
employment as a private practitioner, of himself, his partner, or
associate, except that he may request referrals from a lawyer referral
service operated, sponsored, or approved by a bar association
representative of the general bar of the geographical area in which the
association exists and may pay its fees incident thereto."
To a similar effect under DR 2-103 (D) (3) a lawyer may permit the
recommendation of his employment by "A lawyer referral service operated,
sponsored or approved by a bar association representative of the general
bar of the geographical area in which the association exists."
A local civil liberties organization does not come within the
exceptions or restrictions imposed by the Code concerning legal
referrals. It would, accordingly, be improper for a lawyer to permit his
name to be included on a referral list prepared by such organization for
matters not involving a civil liberties issue, unless the plan is
approved by the appropriate bar association. N.Y. State 182 (1971).