Reply
cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Reply

Re: Upwork's Charges, Legal Fees and the Unlicensed Practice of Law

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
11 of 61

Heather S wrote:
Thanks for this information. I don’t know what others are doing, but I am only using Upwork for legal writing type things... nothing that involves legal advice. It would be great if Upwork took steps to be in compliance with the requirements for “lawyer referral services” or something along those lines. Appreciate everyone’s input.

I think the only way Upwork could do that would be to spin off a separate platform for legal services with a different payment model. The problem isn't referrals--Upwork doesn't promote any particular attorney or match clients with attorneys. It's that in most states there is no legal way for an attorney to pay anyone other than another attorney a percentage of legal fees collected.

Active Member
Heather S Member Since: Apr 9, 2019
12 of 61
Yes, I’m aware the issue is fee splitting. I was suggesting that perhaps one way to get around the requirement might be to change how the service works... perhaps by meeting the requirements as a lawyer referral service instead. But as you’ve indicated, it would require a big change so probably not likely to happen.
Highlighted
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
13 of 61

Heather S wrote:
 but I am only using Upwork for legal writing type things... nothing that involves legal advice.

 

You made a very wise decision there. It appears that several Upwork freelancers who offer legal services through the platform have been included as defendants in the lawsuit. Regardless of the outcome of the case, it's likely that these attorneys will be referred to their state disciplinary bodies with regard to the fee splitting issue, and that in the course of that investigation regulators will look at other attorneys practicing law through Upwork.

Active Member
Gregory L Member Since: Apr 18, 2017
14 of 61
I’m not saying I agree with the rule, but every state bar I’ve spoken with distinguishes between flat fees and fees based on a percentage of the business an ad or some
other type service generates.

Placing an ad in a newspaper, marketing fees, or any other type of flat rate fee flat fee is not percentage based and is permissible. But giving a marketer 10% of a $1000 legal fee and 10% of a $1,000,000 for providing the same service is what crosses the line.

If personal injury lawyers could openly split their legal fees with non-lawyers, attorney marketing would be a lot different.
Active Member
Heather S Member Since: Apr 9, 2019
15 of 61
Yes, I’m afraid this is a restriction for those of us in states with fee splitting rules. I’m trying to think of a way to adjust, but so far, nada. Appreciate your response.
Active Member
Heather S Member Since: Apr 9, 2019
16 of 61
For those complaining about the reopening of this thread. I apologize, but it was the only thread that was on point about my exact issue, and I did not want to create a new thread. This has clearly been an issue in the past, and appears to still be relevant.
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
17 of 61

Jennifer D wrote:

Why aren't you seeing this as a marketing fee versus "sharing funds"?   How is it different that if you were placing an ad in a newspaper, etc. I see their fee arragment more as a marketing lens than I am sharing my proceeds from them.  

 

If your interpretation so black and white, then there could never be head hunters/recruiters for attorneys.  They get paid a % for placement at the end of the day.   Those types of roles exist - how is this different?

 

Curious.  


Jennifer, you're talking about hiring an attorney to work for a law firm--that attorney is receiving a salary, not fees from a client. The ethical restrictions relate to fees paid to a lawyer or law firm by a client.

Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
18 of 61

Jennifer D wrote:

Why aren't you seeing this as a marketing fee versus "sharing funds"?   How is it different that if you were placing an ad in a newspaper, etc. I see their fee arragment more as a marketing lens than I am sharing my proceeds from them.  

 

If your interpretation so black and white, then there could never be head hunters/recruiters for attorneys.  They get paid a % for placement at the end of the day.   Those types of roles exist - how is this different?

 

Curious.  


Jennifer,

The reason these attorneys, former attorneys, and paralegals are "seeing" this kind of work arrangement as fee-splitting is because that is what their legal training has taught them to do. When they consult with outside authorities—legal ethics experts and bar associations in multiple states—their initial assessment is confirmed. They are not just advancing their personal opinions or interpretations, or seeking creative ways to get around established strictures.

edited: Now that Upwork is being sued over this question (among other related matters), presumably they will implement an appropriate policy, though perhaps not till litigation is resolved.

 

Best,

Michael.

Active Member
Michele R Member Since: May 1, 2019
19 of 61
Lol. Sounds like an attorney answered your question.
But. I agree that the guidelines surrounding jobs are wayyy too rigid in general. And the ways we pay for the work, like mileposts, are confusing and again not like the real world.
So a very loose marketplace is digital point but it is sketchy. So it is difficult to always find a freelancer that can work and get paid on your schedule.
Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
20 of 61

Gregory, this is interesting. Unfortunately I'm afraid that you may be right, you're the lawyer after all. But this means that Upwork is not a place for US lawyers to do business, which is too bad. On the other hand, I don't see Upwork changing their business model in order to accommodate US lawyers, so I guess we won't have access to your services on Upwork.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
TOP KUDOED MEMBERS