When lawyers part ways, there are often disputes about who gets which case and who gets paid what from attorneys fees subsequently earned. In order to avoid messy fights, lawyers may decide to enter into fee-splitting agreements on the front end.
That is a laudable approach. But not all such agreements are unenforceable.
For example, an agreement that creates an oppressive financial disincentive by mandating a large payment to the former law firm that would preclude or dissuade a departing attorney from accepting representation of firm clients is impermissible.
Likewise, a fee splitting provision in employment agreement that requires a former attorney to pay a percentage of fees earned on subsequent legal employment by former clients of the prior law firm is unenforceable.
There are ways to structure fee-splitting agreement so they are enforceable. As a general rule, the higher the former firm’s cut gets, the less likely a court will enforce the agreement.