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Rule 7.4 Intermediary Organizations

(a) An intermediary organization is a lawyer referral service, lawyer advertising cooperative, lawyer matching service, online marketing platform, or other similar organization that engages in referring consumers of legal services to lawyers or facilitating the creation of lawyer-client relationships between consumers of legal services and lawyers willing to provide assistance. A tribunal or similar government agency that appoints or assigns lawyers to represent parties before the tribunal or government agency is not an intermediary organization under this Rule.

(b) Before and while participating in an intermediary organization, the lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the intermediary organization’s conduct complies with the professional obligations of the lawyer, including the following conditions:

(1) The intermediary organization does not direct or regulate the lawyer’s professional judgment in rendering legal services to the client;

(2) The intermediary organization, including its agents and employees, does not engage in improper solicitation pursuant to Rule 7.3;

(3) The intermediary organization makes the criteria for inclusion available to prospective clients, including any payment made or arranged by the lawyer(s) participating in the service and any fee charged to the client for use of the service, at the outset of the client’s interaction with the intermediary organization;

(4) The function of the referral arrangement between lawyer and intermediary organization is fully disclosed to the client at the outset of the client’s interaction with the lawyer;

(5) The intermediary organization does not require the lawyer to pay more than a reasonable sum representing a proportional share of the organization’s administrative and advertising costs, including sums paid in accordance with Rule 5.4(a)(6); and

(6) The intermediary organization is not owned or directed by the lawyer, a law firm with which the lawyer is associated, or a lawyer with whom the lawyer is associated in a firm.

(c) If a lawyer discovers an intermediary organization’s noncompliance with Rule 7.4(b)(1) – (6), the lawyer shall either withdraw from participation or seek to correct the noncompliance. If the intermediary organization fails to correct the noncompliance, the lawyer must withdraw from participation.


[1] The term "referral" implies that some attempt is made to match the needs of the prospective client with the qualifications of the recommended lawyer.

History Note: Statutory Authority G.S. 84-23

Adopted by the Supreme Court: April 21, 2021

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