Ethics Committee Formal Opinion #1993-94/16
Fee Sharing: Association Staff Attorney Representing Association Members for Fees Paid in Trust
November 17, 1994
The staff lawyer of a non-profit association may render legal services to members of that association provided that the client consents to payment from a trust set up by the association, neither the trust nor the association interfere with the lawyer’s independence of professional judgement, or with the lawyer-client relationship, and the lawyer protects client confidences. (Rule 1.6, 1.7, 1.8(f), 5.4(c)).
A staff lawyer of a non-profit association may receive payment for legal services provided to the members of the association from a trust established by the association and funded by member-client payments, provided the association does not share in the fees (payments) made by member-clients. (Rule 5.4(a)).
Whether it is permissible under the Rules for a lay non-profit organization to establish a separate trust, administered by the trustees and funded by organization members, to provide members of the organization with legal aid assistance performed by those attorneys employed by the parent organization and paid for by the trust with fees from the participating members?