Sunday, February 16, 2020

Illinois considers regulation for private lawyer/client "matchmaking" services

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) has adopted a proposal to amend a number of rules related to the practice of law to better regulate the practices of what it calls "intermediary connecting services," which is another way of saying services that (for a fee) provide customers with ways to find a lawyer for the customers needs.  In other words, services like LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer and others like them.

Some of these services have been operating in Illinois for some time, but without specific oversight by the ARDC.  The proposed changes would create specific requirements to provide oversight.  In its introduction, the proposal explains that with it, the ARDC’s proposal seeks to:

(1) Amend Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2. Proposed amendments to Rule 7.2 would guide Illinois lawyers in their participation and payments to intermediary connecting services. Lawyers would be permitted to participate only in those services that maintain an active registration with the ARDC, provided that certain conditions are met, including that the fees of the service and the lawyer are not contingent on the outcome of matter, the lawyer makes certain disclosures to the client, and the lawyer does not permit the intermediary connecting service to interfere with the lawyer-client relationship or with the lawyer’s professional judgment.
(2) Amend Supreme Court Rule 730. Proposed amendments to Rule 730 would create a registration and regulatory framework to protect the legal profession and the public. Intermediary connecting services would have to satisfy certain eligibility requirements in registering with the ARDC. In light of the longstanding concern of for-profit nonlawyer interference with or control over lawyers, registered intermediary connecting services would have to adhere to certain minimum ethical and business standards. These would include not interfering with or controlling a lawyer’s representation or judgment, not charging or collecting a fee that is calculated or expressed as a percentage of the lawyer’s anticipated or actual legal fees, and not holding or placing restrictions on a lawyer’s legal fee.
(3) Add Supreme Court Rule 220. This new rule would extend the attorney-client privilege and Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(a) protection to communications between potential clients and a broad swath of lawyer-client connecting services for the purposes of seeking legal representation or legal services.
You can read the full proposal here.  for more information go here and here.

The ARDC invites you to provide comments on its proposal by email to

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