ATTORNEY REFERRAL FEE

Opinion No. 49 (1980)


QUESTION: Is a judge subject to the Judicial Code of Conduct entitled to a referral fee under the following facts: 1) prior to his appointment as judge, he represented a client in a workman's compensation case and in a third party action; 2) also prior to his appointment, the judge referred such cases to another lawyer and at that time a referral agreement between them was made; 3) the litigation in both cases has now been completed resulting in an award of more than $1 million; 4) the attorney to whom the cases were referred reportedly has refused to pay the judge any referral fee?

ANSWER: The referral of cases by a judge prior to taking office does not constitute the practice of law and referral fees may be accepted without violation of either Article 319, Texas Revised Civil Statutes or the Code of Judicial Conduct.