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Taking Cases in States Not Admitted

Hey LAB, 

Have a question for everyone regarding thoughts on working on out of state client cases. In order to work in a state in which you are not admitted, you have to associate with counsel that is admitted in that state and split the fee (can't charge the client more than what he'd pay for just one lawyer). 

What are everyone's thoughts on that? Is this something you do and under what circumstances?

A lot of out of state clients find me on the internet, through social media and articles I am writing, and I am not sure what to do with all of these cases. I really hate to turn away clients but not sure if its worth it to associate with counsel in another state. Additionally, is there a way to make any money on sending these cases to other attorneys? Not sure if I even want to do that but curious. 

What do you all think?



  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    I suppose it probably depends on the case, but in general, I don't see a benefit for the client or the attorney in a case like this.

    You end up just being a token lawyer, and the client doesn't get any benefit from having you involved.

    Instead, if you think you are getting enough potential client business from other states, get other attorneys to pay you to put their names in a directory you host on your blog. Or build relationships with attorneys you know in other states that can refer business back to you.
  • AaronStreetAaronStreet Minneapolis, MN Admin
    Or figure out a way to create a virtual national law firm ahead of time.
  • The answer to this question really depends on the type of cases. For litigation, yes, you need counsel in that jurisdiction. But for transactional matters, you are not restricted from representing clients in other states. If the clients are all coming to you through your website, however, the issue becomes whether you are holding yourself out in the other jurisdiction as licensed to practice there or soliciting clients in a state in which you are not licensed. If you get a couple of cases through the web, probably not a problem. If you get cases through personal referrals, again probably not a problem. But if you have a steady stream of clients coming to you through your website, and they're all from another state, and an ethics authority gets wind of it, they may want to know why you're soliciting clients from that state. 

    The fees are not the primary factor in all of this. Check the CA rules; in most states lawyers cannot be paid for referring cases. "Referral fees" and "fee splitting" in most jurisdictions is supposed to be related to how the lawyers share the work or the liability for the case, not who found it. 
  • Thanks for the feedback. I would love to start the first national virtual law firm. In the meantime, setting up a directory might make sense. The cases come in from all over, not consistently from particular states.
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