You’ve probably never seen one offering 50 percent off an attorney’s services, but one N.C. family law firm wants to advertise through Groupon, the company that puts together the discount deals and forwards them to consumers who sign up by e-mail.
In a letter to the N.C. State Bar’s Ethics Committee, the firm said it wanted to promote its “virtual law office” under Groupon’s terms but wanted to make sure that wouldn’t run afoul of any of the Bar’s ethical rules.
It does, according to an Ethics Committee staff opinion. Although lawyers can spend money for advertising, Groupon is different – the company negotiates with each business on a case-by-case basis and its compensation is a percentage of the amount actually paid to the business. That would appear to constitute fee-sharing, the staff opinion says, a violation of Rule 5.4(a), which bars sharing legal fees with a non-lawyer.
The N.C. State Bar’s Ethics Committee will consider this and other issues at its quarterly meeting Thursday in Raleigh.
- By SYLVIA ADCOCK, Staff Writer