80-F-3 - Trade Exchange for Barter of Legal Services

FORMAL ETHICS OPINION 80-F-3

This Ethics Committee of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of
Tennessee has been requested to consider whether or not a barter system
wherein legal services would be traded for other goods or services and
after referral by a trade broker within the system and a fee charged on each
transaction by the system would be in conflict with the Code of
Professional Responsibility.


The general trading policies and procedures of the barter system provide, among other
things, that

  1. All trade transactions must be approved by the barter system office;
  2. Each member is assigned a trade broker to assist him;
  3. Services could only be provided after referral by the trade broker; and
  4. A service fee of 10% is charged by the system on each transaction.

The more apparent conflicts stemming from this system are referral of legal matters to a
lawyer by another person for compensation and it prohibits a lawyer from exercising
independent professional judgment on behalf of his or her client.


It is the opinion of the Committee that a barter system structured such as this is in direct
conflict with DR 2-103(B), (C) and (D), and DR 5-107(C) of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and is in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated 29-308(2).


This 6th day of October, 1980.


ETHICS COMMITTEE:

Randall Burcham
George E. Morrow
W. H. Lassiter


APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD