37 CFR 11.504: Professional independence of a practitioner

Taken from the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 07.2015, Last Revised in November 2015

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11.504    Professional independence of a practitioner.

  • (a) A practitioner or law firm shall not share legal fees with a non-practitioner, except that:
    • (1) An agreement by a practitioner with the practitioner’s firm, partner, or associate may provide for the payment of money, over a reasonable period of time after the practitioner’s death, to the practitioner’s estate or to one or more specified persons;
    • (2) A practitioner who purchases the practice of a deceased, disabled, or disappeared practitioner may, pursuant to the provisions of § 11.117, pay to the estate or other representative of that practitioner the agreed-upon purchase price;
    • (3) A practitioner or law firm may include non-practitioner employees in a compensation or retirement plan, even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement; and
    • (4) A practitioner may share legal fees, whether awarded by a tribunal or received in settlement of a matter, with a nonprofit organization that employed, retained or recommended employment of the practitioner in the matter and that qualifies under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • (b) A practitioner shall not form a partnership with a non-practitioner if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law.
  • (c) A practitioner shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays the practitioner to render legal services for another to direct or regulate the practitioner’s professional judgment in rendering such legal services.
  • (d) A practitioner shall not practice with or in the form of a professional corporation or association authorized to practice law for a profit, if:
    • (1) A non-practitioner owns any interest therein, except that a fiduciary representative of the estate of a practitioner may hold the stock or interest of the practitioner for a reasonable time during administration;
    • (2) A non-practitioner is a corporate director or officer thereof or occupies the position of similar responsibility in any form of association other than a corporation; or
    • (3) A non-practitioner has the right to direct or control the professional judgment of a practitioner.
[Added 78 FR 20180, Apr. 3, 2013, effective May 3, 2013]