Developing a case referral office policy

If you are contacted about cases that you either can’t or don’t want to accept you should consider a standard office policy on referral of cases. Here is an example of a policy:

A GENERAL POLICY

1. There are four types of cases we refer out to other attorneys:

(1) Cases involving legal work outside of our area which have sufficient merit to justify a referral to a specific attorney

(2) Cases with we don’t feel are substantial enough but have sufficient liability and damages to justify a referral to a specific attorney

(3) Cases or where there is a conflict of interest

(4) Cases with minimal liability or damages which we don’t want and simply refer out.

2. There are two situations involving referrals of these cases: (1) where we expect a referral fee or reimbursement and (2) where we don’t.

3. In each of the situations the information will be entered in our case management software.

4. In each case where a referral is made to a specific attorney it will be made from the attorney referral list and a letter to the attorney as well as the client will be sent.

B. REFERRALS INVOLVING CONFLICTS OR OUTSIDE OF PRACTICE AREA

1. Referrals involving a conflict should be made to those who we know are qualified to handle that kind of case. The other referrals should be to those who practice that type of work. However, we do not refer divorce cases to specific attorneys. See following list of attorneys and types of legal work to refer.

C. CASES WE TAKE FOR SETTLEMENT ONLY

1. These cases must have a settlement value of $____________or more to qualify.

2. The client must sign a retainer indicating they understand we are willing to try to settle the case but if not possible will not file and will refer out.<1

3. It’s understand that our usual "sue, settle or dump" policy does not apply and these cases may remain open up to 1.5 years. The file must have a designation of that fact.

D.REFERRALS INVOLVING A FEE DIVISION

1. Referrals of cases for a fee division will be made to specific attorneys we have an arrangement for fee division. We normally do not charge a referral fee and do so only where we have an ongoing role involving work by our office.

2. We will send a letter outlining the fee division and put a copy with the retainer in the file.

3. We will create a diary entry in the case management system to check the status of the file and monitor the progress – particularly the statute of limitations.

E. POLICY INVOLVING REFERRALS TO OUR OFFICE

1.In cases involving attorney referrals we need to determine in the lawyer expects a referral fee. The attorney will decide if we want such a case and the ethical requirements we need to follow.

2.In cases where the referring lawyer has a continuing involvement with us,a written confirmation of the fee division is required and the client must be informed.

3.If the referral is from a non lawyer, a thank you letter is required from the lawyer.

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