Ethics Committee Advisory Opinion #1984/5 7

November 13, 1984


An attorney may recommend that client enter into a separate contingency fee agreement with a medical consulting firm which offers technical research services, expert witnesses, etc., provided that (1) the service does not engage in the practice of law, (2) any witnesses are paid regardless of the outcome, and (3) the attorney exercises control over the services performed.

The hypothetical facts presented involve an attorney who enters into a contingency fee contract with a client in a case involving personal injury.  The lawyer, in need of medical experts, is now asked to recommend whether the client may enter into another separate contingency fee contract with a “medical consulting service” which provides technical research, investigation, analysis of records, expert witnesses in various fields, etc.  The service does not engage in the practice of law, nor does its officers and employees testify.  It only aids the lawyer in prosecution of the suit in the manner described above.  Further, the service requires that upon settlement or victory by the plaintiff, that the lawyer pay the service its fees and expenses under its contract before the client receives any funds, so that the lawyer acts as a conduit for distribution of the funds.


  1. A lawyer who is admitted to practice in New Hampshire, but who maintains an office and practices primarily in Boston, has formed a New Hampshire corporation with a licensed realtor and another party experienced in the real estate business.  The purpose of the corporation is to develop, manage, and sell real estate in the (small town) area.  A press release about the corporation identifies the lawyer as a resident of (small town) who practices law in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  The inquiry letter states that the lawyer has never had a law office in this state, does not intend to have an office here, and does not contemplate being in the general practice of law, or seeking clients where the possibility of a conflict between the law practice and his real estate business would exist.  However, the letter further states that the lawyer presently practices law and has several “large clients” in the North Country.  The lawyer has sought a reconsideration of a reconsideration of two prior Ethics Opinions issued by the predecessor of this Committee, holding that New Hampshire lawyers may not engage in the business of real estate.

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