NO! In Texas, it is against the law and against the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct to allow an attorney to PAY for cases. The best example of this is a “case runner,” or someone who gets paid to bring a case to a law firm or an attorney. It is against the rules to solicit someone for business that has not reached out to you for advice within the first 30 days of an accident or injury-causing event. A lot of personal injury attorneys in Texas, and especially in SOUTH Texas, solicit and obtain clients in complete compliance with the rules. However, there are some attorneys that break the rules and commit what is called Barratry. Barratry is defined by the Texas statutes as:
“(a) A person commits an offense [of Barratry] if, with intent to obtain an economic benefit the person: (1) knowingly institutes a suit or claim that the person has not been authorized to pursue; (2) solicits employment, either in person or by telephone, for himself or for another; (3) pays, gives, or advances or offers to pay, give, or advance to a prospective client money or anything of value to obtain employment as a professional from the prospective client; (4) pays or gives or offers to pay or give a person money or anything of value to solicit employment; (5) pays or gives or offers to pay or give a family member of a prospective client money or anything of value to solicit employment; or (6) accepts or agrees to accept money or anything of value to solicit employment.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person: (1) knowingly finances the commission of an offense under Subsection (a); (2) invests funds the person knows or believes are intended to further the commission of an offense under Subsection (a); or (3) is a professional who knowingly accepts employment within the scope of the person’s license, registration, or certification that results from the solicitation of employment in violation of Subsection (a).1”
(c) It is an exception to prosecution under Subsection (a) or (b) that the person’s conduct is authorized by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct or any rule of court.
(d) A person commits an offense if the person: (1) is an attorney, chiropractor, physician, surgeon, or private investigator licensed to practice in this state or any person licensed, certified, or registered by a health care regulatory agency of this state; and (2) with the intent to obtain professional employment for the person or for another, provides or knowingly permits to be provided to an individual who has not sought the person’s employment, legal representation, advice, or care a written communication or a solicitation, including a solicitation in person or by telephone, that: (A) concerns an action for personal injury or wrongful death or otherwise relates to an accident or disaster involving the person to whom the communication or solicitation is provided or a relative of that person and that was provided before the 31st day after the date on which the accident or disaster occurred; (B) concerns a specific matter and relates to legal representation and the person knows or reasonably should know that the person to whom the communication or solicitation is directed is represented by a lawyer in the matter; (C) concerns a lawsuit of any kind, including an action for divorce, in which the person to whom the communication or solicitation is provided is a defendant or a relative of that person, unless the lawsuit in which the person is named as a defendant has been on file for more than 31 days before the date on which the communication or solicitation was provided; (D) is provided or permitted to be provided by a person who knows or reasonably should know that the injured person or relative of the injured person has indicated a desire not to be contacted by or receive communications or solicitations concerning employment; (E) involves coercion, duress, fraud, overreaching, harassment, intimidation, or undue influence; or (F) contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or unfair statement or claim.2”
In conclusion, an attorney cannot pay a source money in exchange for a case. Attorneys can refer cases to another attorney and those attorneys can split attorney’s fees. Since, in this case, both parties are attorneys, the attorneys are allowed to structure an agreement to split the fee. A layperson can also recommend an attorney without any violation of the rules or the law. The thing that breaks the rules is when the referring person gets MONEY in exchange for the case.