The South Carolina Bar Ethics Advisory Committee has published a new Opinion, 11-05, referred to informally online by some commentators as the “Groupon Opinion.” The question asked by a SC Lawyer was:
Does a lawyer violate the Rules of Professional Conduct by contracting with a website to offer vouchers that can be purchased from the website and then subsequently redeemed for discounted legal services such as the preparation of wills?
The Committee opined that the use of “daily deal” websites to sell vouchers to be redeemed for discounted legal services does not violate the Rule 5.4(a) prohibition on sharing of legal fees, but the attorney is cautioned that the use of such websites must be in compliance with Rules 7.1 and 7.2 (advertising rules) and could lead to violations of several other rules if logistical issues are not appropriately addressed.
Be sure to read the Opinion in its entirety. The Opinions of the Ethics Advisory Committee are “…exclusively to members of the South Carolina Bar concerning ethical issues raised by the inquirer’s contemplated conduct not relating to a pending matter. This Committee has no disciplinary authority. Lawyer discipline in South Carolina is administered solely by the South Carolina Supreme Court through its Commission on Lawyer Conduct.” (Committee Rules of Procedure and Scope of Authority)