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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 118227
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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I have worked with immigration lawyers for a few years and

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I have worked with immigration lawyers for a few years and basically I've had an agreement with them to refer clients to them and get commission. Currently I am in US and thinking to office here and offer them to be partners in this location. So rather than giving me commission for referral I'm thinking to establish a company here and we can be partners only for this location, but I don't know how I should ask them!

Do I need a proposal, market research, etc. to see what is their opinion? Do you think you can provide me with a template that I can email it to them? I think it shouldn't be so formal since we've worked together for a few years and they know me but neither informal.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Legally, the only way you could enter into such an arrangement in the US is if you are an attorney yourself. Every state bar has a rule prohibiting attorneys from fee sharing or even entering into a business enterprise with a non-lawyer where legal services are involved.

The CA Rule states:

Rule 1-320 Financial Arrangements With Non-Lawyers

(A) Neither a member nor a law firm shall directly or indirectly share legal fees with a person who is not a lawyer, except that:

    (1) An agreement between a member and a law firm, partner, or associate may provide for the payment of money after the member's death to the member's estate or to one or more specified persons over a reasonable period of time; or

    (2) A member or law firm undertaking to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased member may pay to the estate of the deceased member or other person legally entitled thereto that proportion of the total compensation which fairly represents the services rendered by the deceased member; or

    (3) A member or law firm may include non-member employees in a compensation, profit-sharing, or retirement plan even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement, if such plan does not circumvent these rules or Business and professions Code section 6000 et seq.; or

    (4) A member may pay a prescribed registration, referral, or participation fee to a lawyer referral service established, sponsored, and operated in accordance with the State Bar of California's Minimum Standards for a Lawyer Referral Service in California.

(B) A member shall not compensate, give, or promise anything of value to any person or entity for the purpose of recommending or securing employment of the member or the member's law firm by a client, or as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in employment of the member or the member's law firm by a client. A member's offering of or giving a gift or gratuity to any person or entity having made a recommendation resulting in the employment of the member or the member's law firm shall not of itself violate this rule, provided that the gift or gratuity was not offered or given in consideration of any promise, agreement, or understanding that such a gift or gratuity would be forthcoming or that referrals would be made or encouraged in the future.

(C) A member shall not compensate, give, or promise anything of value to any representative of the press, radio, television, or other communication medium in anticipation of or in return for publicity of the member, the law firm, or any other member as such in a news item, but the incidental provision of food or beverage shall not of itself violate this rule.

Thus, any attorney who engages in a practice of paying referral fees to non-attorneys or enters into such a business arrangement would be committing an act violating the rules of professional conduct and it appears that whatever situation you have going is one they are not going to want documented.

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This is NOT the practice of law nor is it legal advice to you, it is merely educational information for you to use to seek out a licensed attorney in your state to get actual legal advice from them. Please use sites such as or or to find a local attorney to get actual legal advice in all matters.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks a lot for your answer, but the immigration lawyers that I work with are from different countries like St. Kitts, Dominica, Austria which offer second citizenship. I think I should've provided this first to get a concise answer.

Can you answer the question based on the provided information please?

Thank you for th new information.

You would have to enter these contracts with them under the laws of their countries, since fee splitting with non-lawyers is illegal in the US in general. Austria and Dominica and St. Kitts law permit fee sharing agreements, but I must apologize that because this is going to have to be done under the laws of those countries, setting this up as an actual business in the US like this would really be done with an informal email proposal sending them information on the average number of customers per year you could send to them and the approximate value per customer to them.

You can send them a business plan as part of your package. Here is a sample business plan for a law firm, which you are not but it is closest for you to modify to your own needs and you can copy and paste what you need to your own business plan.
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