LegalMatch is deeply involved in building awareness and acceptance for Online Legal Matching in all fifty states. We are confident that our policies are within the guidelines and the ethical standards of all State Bar Associations across the United States. To date, the State Bars of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas as well as the Rhode Island Supreme Court Ethics Advisory Panel and the Supreme Court of Ohio have each announced favorable opinions on the use of LegalMatch within their jurisdictions. Numerous other State Bars have given informal approval to LegalMatch's model. And the Utah State Bar replaced its traditional lawyer referral process with the LegalMatch online matching service for Utah citizens. Even the FTC has released an opinion endorsing Online Legal Matching. To read each of these opinions, please refer to the following links:
- Colorado Opinion (PDF)
- North Carolina Opinion
- South Carolina Opinion
- Rhode Island Opinion (PDF)
- Ohio Opinion (DOC)
- Texas Opinion (PDF)
- Utah Opinion (PDF)
- FTC Opinion (PDF)
To read more on the legal ethics and an attorney's use of LegalMatch, see our Ethics FAQ about Online Legal Matching.
The LegalMatch Bar Association Program
In 2004, the Utah State Bar signed an agreement to replace its traditional lawyer referral process with the LegalMatch online matching service for Utah citizens, a partnership which is the first of its kind in the legal industry. This agreement marks a key milestone in LegalMatch's mission to provide the best way for consumers and small businesses to find the right lawyer. In the course of fulfilling this mission, LegalMatch is providing Bar Associations nationwide with a new method for efficiently matching attorneys and consumers.
Our experience with LegalMatch has exceeded expectations: Clients and attorneys now gain meaningful information about one another quickly and easily.
-Read more from the Director of Communications, Utah State Bar (PDF)
The North Carolina State Bar, the South Carolina Bar Association, the Texas State Bar, the Rhode Island Supreme Court Ethics Advisory Panel, and the Ohio Supreme Court have each ruled favorably on the Online Matching method that LegalMatch pioneered. The precedent-setting Utah State Bar decision is now part of a growing trend among Bar Associations to look favorably upon Web-based online attorney-client matching.
The North Carolina State Bar, in its Formal Ethics Opinion of April 23, 2004, entitled, "Participation in On-Line Legal Matching Service" stated:
Opinion rules that a lawyer may participate in an on-line service that is similar to both a lawyer referral service and a legal directory provided there is no fee sharing with the service and all communications about the lawyer and the service are truthful.
Read the entire opinion: North Carolina State Bar, 2004 Formal Ethics Opinion 1
The South Carolina Bar advised, in Opinion #00-10, that a lawyer could ethically participate in an Internet service that matched attorneys and clients when the service provider plays no role in the decision-making process of the recipient of the information provided. The Committee also found that reasonable payments to an Internet service based solely on the number of hits (and not based on whether the user ultimately becomes a client) are a way of determining advertising charges based on the effectiveness of the Internet advertisement and are permissible under Rule 7.2(c). South Carolina Ethics Advisory Opinion 01-03
The State Bar of Texas recently emitted a new opinion in support of allowing Texas lawyers to participate in for-profit Internet websites that help match attorneys with people seeking legal representation. In opinion 573, released August 11, 2006, the Texas Ethics Committee, announced that it permits automated online legal matching services and that lawyers in Texas could ethically use this type of service. Texas Ethics Committee Opinion 573 (PDF)
Similarly, the Rhode Island Supreme Court Ethics Advisory Panel ruled in February 24, 2005 that the LegalMatch consumer/lawyer matching solution was an acceptable method for attorneys to utilize when seeking prospective clients. Read the entire opinion: Rhode Island Opinion (PDF)
The Opinion, No. 2005-01 request No. 885, and published in February 24, 2005, states:
The Panel concludes that (a) the annual membership fee represents the reasonable costs of advertising permitted by rule 7.2(c); (b) the arrangement is not a referral service;(c) payment of the annual fee to LegalMatch.com (LegalMatch) is not impermissible fee-sharing with a non-lawyer; and (d) a participating lawyer's reply to a consumer's request for legal services is not a prohibited solicitation. The Panel concludes that the proposed arrangement with LegalMatch.com is permissible under the Rules of Professional Conduct."
According to the Supreme Court of Ohio, DR 2-103(E) states that “nothing in this rule [DR 2-103--the Referral and Recommendation Rule] prohibits a lawyer from accepting employment received in response to the lawyer’s own advertising, provided the advertising is in compliance with DR 2-101.
The Board in Opinion 2000-5 addressed an attorney's participation in an online attorney referral service. In Opinion 2000-5, the Board advised as follows:
If an online lawyer referral service is in compliance with DR 2-103 of the Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility and with the Lawyer Referral and Information Services Regulations, an attorney may pay the lawyer referral service a membership or registration fee as well as a fee calculated on a percentage of the legal fee earned. DR 2-103(C)(2)(a), DR 2-103(C)(1)(c), DR 2-103(B), and DR 3-102(A)(4) expressly permit both the payment of a membership or registration fee to a lawyer referral service as well as a fee calculated on a percentage of the legal fee earned. Before participating in a lawyer referral service, an Ohio attorney should determine whether the referral service meets the requirements of DR 2-103(C) (1)(a) through (j) and complies with the Lawyer Referral and Information Services Regulations.
Is Your Bar Association Interested in a Partnership With LegalMatch?
If you are a Bar Association representative and would like to discuss a potential partnership with LegalMatch, please contact Anna Ostrovsky at or (415) 946-0898.