The state of Washington is now the 11th to close its ethics investigation of Total Attorneys with no finding of wrongdoing. Washington State Bar Association Senior Disciplinary Counsel Jonathan Burke issued a letter saying the state would not pursue complaints filed against 13 Washington attorneys over their use of Total Attorneys for Internet marketing, according to a statement issued today by Total Attorneys
As I wrote here in January, Connecticut recently reached a similar outcome, concluding there was no cause to file charges against five attorneys there. Disciplinary authorities in Illinois, Hawai’i, Vermont, Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado and Alaska have also closed their investigations of Total Attorneys with no findings of wrongdoing.
The investigations came in response to a series of ethics complaints filed in some 47 states by a Connecticut lawyer who maintains that the Total Attorneys model violates ethics rules.
In Washington, the disciplinary counsel concluded, “The websites do not attempt to hold themselves out as lawyer referral services or fit the definition of ‘lawyer referral service’ in Comment 6 to RPC 7.2.” He also address the claim that the sites’ pay-per-performance model violated 11 USC §504(a), which prohibits the sharing of fees in bankruptcy cases. The letter says that the attorneys in question “did not share or agree to share ‘compensation’ with the websites.”