April 23, 1993
Appeal from the Supreme Court, New York County, Lewis R. Friedman, J., Harold Baer, Jr., J.
We agree with the IAS Court that plaintiff's association with defendant did not amount to an "Of Counsel" relationship, and thus find it unnecessary to decide whether the prohibition against fee-splitting found in Code of Professional Responsibility DR 2-107 ( 22 NYCRR 1200.12) applies to such a relationship. Under DR 2-107 (A) (2) ( 22 NYCRR 1200.12 [a] ), unassociated lawyers may share in a fee if, among other things, "[t]he division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or, by a writing given to the client, each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation." Neither option avails plaintiff, who admittedly gave no such writing to any of the clients, and whose work, the record establishes, was merely that of a finder, searching for potential clients and conducting non-investigative interviews. While a fee-splitting agreement will be enforced where the attorney seeking a share "performed some work, labor or services which contributed toward the earning of the fee" there being no requirement that compensation be in proportion to the amount of work actually performed (Oberman v Reilly, 66 A.D.2d 686, 687, lv dismissed 48 N.Y.2d 602), more is required of the forwarding attorney than the mere recommendation of a lawyer (see, Carter v Katz, Shandell, Katz Erasmous, 120 Misc.2d 1009, 1018). Given the important policy goals underlying DR 2-107 and the well-established right of States to regulate the legal profession (Goldfarb v Virginia State Bar, 421 U.S. 773), we think this is a reasonable restriction on the right to contract. We have considered plaintiff's other contentions and find them to be without merit.
Concur — Carro, J.P., Wallach, Asch and Rubin, JJ.