Advisory Opinion: 1132

Year Issued: 1988

RPC(s): RPC 5.4(a)

Subject: Lawyer as mediator; intermediary; division of fees with nonlawyer


The Committee considered your inquiry regarding further clarification of the conduct of lawyers who act as members of mediation teams through [a mediation service.] Your specific inquiry was whether once the mediation had been successfully completed, and at the request of the parties, the mediation team could continue to act as intermediary. The Committee was of the opinion that a lawyer acting as intermediary is practicing law, and that RPC 5.4(a) prohibits a lawyer from sharing fees with nonlawyers, and therefore while the lawyer could privately act as an intermediary, the lawyer could not do so as a part of a mediation team as [the mediation service].

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Advisory Opinions are provided for the education of the Bar and reflect the opinion of the Committee on Professional Ethics (CPE) or its predecessors. Advisory Opinions are provided pursuant to the authorization granted by the Board of Governors, but are not individually approved by the Board and do not reflect the official position of the Bar association. Laws other than the Washington State Rules of Professional Conduct may apply to the inquiry. The Committee's answer does not include or opine about any other applicable law other than the meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct.