By Justin M. Gordon | Posted: March 2021 Source: LACBA | Los Angeles Lawyer
There are also ethical considerations when establishing referral sources. Erin Joyce, a former California State Bar prosecutor, who now defends attorneys in trouble with the Bar, distinguishes between a “quid pro quo” relationship and thanking one’s referral sources: “While Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2 prohibits entering into an exclusive referral arrangement (even when no monies change hands) and Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4 prohibits any fee sharing with a non-attorney, it is acceptable and probably a good business practice to thank referral sources with gifts or gratuities.” The important distinction is that a gift is “not required or owed.” While it is unethical to have an exclusive quid pro quo relationship, sending a bottle of wine is not only permitted but also a great way of showing one’s appreciation.
Thus, attorneys should not feel compelled to “return the favor” to every referral source; it is impossible to send clients to all of one’s contacts. There are other ways to demonstrate gratitude, e.g., attorneys can educate them on the law, introduce them to individuals who may be helpful to their line of work, and, most importantly, do a good job for their clients.
During this time of isolation and physical separation, attorneys should seek out opportunities to strengthen their networks. Kohn and Joyce host a morning networking session over Zoom on the second Friday of each month through LACBA. The Barristers/Young Attorneys Section holds virtual networking events each quarter. There are nontraditional avenues as well, such as organizing an informative webinar with a non-attorney professional. The key is to keep the process interesting and to demonstrate the value that this profession brings to so many in need. Here is to (hopefully) shaking hands again in 2021.”
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