NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONCommittee on
Opinion #302 - 09/12/1973
Topic: Sharing of legal fees
Digest: A law school graduate, awaiting admission, may not share in
legal fees received by his employer
Code: EC 3-8; DR 3-102, 3-103
May a law school graduate, while awaiting the results of his bar
examination, be hired under an agreement which would include
compensation in addition to his salary based upon a percentage of the
business he brought into the firm?
An un-admitted law school graduate may not share in the legal fees of
his employer based upon a percentage of those fees even though business
may have been brought into the firm the law school graduate who
performed a substantial part of the work under the supervision of a
member of the firm. This would be sharing legal fees with a layman and
would be prohibited under EC 3-8.
A lawyer or law firm may not share legal fees with a non-lawyer
except in instances not here pertinent. DR 3-102; see N.Y. State 281
(1973); N.Y. State 282 (1973). A lawyer may not form a partnership with
a non-lawyer if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the
practice of law. DR 3-103. This rule includes any type of joint venture
involving the practice of law that may be formed with a non-admitted law
N.Y. State 255 (1972); N.Y. State 261 (1972); N.Y. State 299 (1973)
concerning the roll of law clerks and paralegal personnel do not extend
the general rule set forth under DR 3-102.
Even where additional compensation paid to a law clerk-graduate of
law school is sporadic and is not measured or graduated as a percentage
of the fees of the business but is more or less arbitrary in amount, it
violates the rule that a lawyer should not pay by way of bonus or
otherwise to a person not an attorney, a consideration for bringing in
business. N.Y. County 80 (1915).