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A couple of months ago, Volvo came out with this freaky scary ad featuring Jean Claude Van Damme doing a split between two moving trucks. 

Then the other day, I saw Chuck Norris stepping the split concept up a notch. 


Real or not (JCVD’s, at least, is), doing splits can be dangerous.  Lawyers doing splits can be even more dangerous.  Splits of fees, that is.  Model Rule 1.5(e) prohibits the splitting of fees between lawyers who are “not in the same firm” unless ” (1) the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation; (2) the client agrees to the arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is confirmed in writing; and (3) the total fee is reasonable.”

Fee-splitting concerns can arise in a number of different circumstances.  An attorney from another firm who refers a matter might seek a piece of the action as a “referral fee.”  Or a client might even suggest that we partner up with another firm on a matter and divide the fees. 

So if someone asks for a referral fee or otherwise wants to split a fee, think twice before agreeing to anything.  Because if you don’t do a split right, you can end up like this…