Attorney Referral Fees in New Mexico - A Complete Guide

New Mexico

How to Ethically Share Fees With Other New Mexico Attorneys

New Mexico allows attorneys to refer a client to another attorney when they either base the fee division on services provided or assume joint responsibility. In all cases, client consent should be obtained in writing.

New Mexico Rule

New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 16-105(f) provides the guidelines for a division of fees. It states:

A division of a fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:

  1. the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation;
  2. the client agrees to the arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is confirmed in writing; and
  3. the total fee is reasonable.

New Mexico is one of a handful of states that requires attorneys to disclose to the client the share that each individual or firm will receive. The state also requires confirmation in writing for any fee split.


In addition to the requirements in the rule, the comments to Rule 16-105 add another condition. Lawyers should only refer a case to an attorney they believe competent to handle the matter.

What defines competency can be found in NMRPC Rule 16-101, which provides:

A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.

Competency can be either an attorney’s current skills, knowledge, and experience or the attorney’s ability to gain the needed knowledge and skills. For referrals, the referring attorney should believe not just in the other attorney’s competency but also in their ability to contribute to the client’s case.

For referrals, attorneys should consider the following factors when determining the reasonableness of the referral to the other attorney:

  • The circumstances for the client and any broader considerations
  • The other attorney or firm’s experience, education, and reputation
  • The nature of the expected services
  • Any relevant ethical considerations

Attorneys have a duty to ensure open communication throughout representation. They should make sure all attorneys abide by Rule 16-102, which governs the scope of representation and the allocation of authority. The client and all involved attorneys should know each attorney’s responsibilities. When necessary, the parties should discuss and consult with the client regarding each attorney’s expected services and work.


Attorneys may refer a client to another attorney whom they believe to be competent to handle the matter. Attorneys must either assume joint responsibility or base the division on work performed.

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