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Lawyers don’t just demonstrate their greed against their clients, they exhibit greed when it comes to sharing fees with other lawyers. As in the case described above, our client was an attorney who referred what turned out to be a very large case to another law firm who agreed to pay the referring attorney a referral fee, which under California law has to be in writing, and has to be consented to by the client. The referral fee was to be a percentage of what the other firm would recover in fees. Our client had referred only a single plaintiff to the other law firm, but both our client and the other law firm knew that the referred client was spearheading a large group of homeowners in what eventually became a multi plaintiff construction defect case against the developer. When the case settled for a huge amount of money, the law firm collected a $3,000,000 fee. Unfortunately, the successful law firm attempted to pay our client only a small referral fee claiming, among other things, that none of the other plaintiffs in the case had agreed to the referral fee, even though the law firm had agreed, in writing to pay based on the entire fee they would recover.

We sued the law firm seeking what they had agreed to pay as a referral fee. The case was litigated very aggressively, but ultimately settled with our client receiving about 70% of the referral fee he should have gotten.