Attorney Referral Fees in Wyoming - A Complete Guide


How to Ethically Share Fees With Other Wyoming Attorneys

Although Wyoming closely tracks the language of the ABA Model Rule 1.5(e), there is one critical difference that makes Wyoming more restrictive than the ABA Rule: Wyoming requires a fee split to be in proportion to services performed, and requires each lawyer to assume joint responsibility for the matter. In this regard, Wyoming is one of three states (the others being Hawaii and Louisiana) with rules more restrictive than the ABA Model Rule.

Wyoming Rule

Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(e) provides the requirements for any 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 and, each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation;
  • (2) the client is informed of the arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is confirmed in writing;
  • (3) the total fee is reasonable.

Wyoming has adopted the language of ABA Model Rule 1.5 for the division of fees, with one significant change. The ABA model rule requires either that the fee be made in proportion to the services performed, or, each lawyer assumes joint responsibility. Wyoming has replaced the "or" with an "and," thereby requiring both requirements to be met.

The comment provides a definition of joint responsibility:

Joint responsibility for the representation entails financial and ethical responsibility for the representation as if the lawyers were associated in a partnership.

Reasonable Fees

WRPC Rule 1.5(a) is the guiding rule for determining whether a fee is reasonable. It provides:

A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:

  • (1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
  • (2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
  • (3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
  • (4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
  • (5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
  • (6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
  • (7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services;
  • (8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.

Similar to Rule 1.5(e), the state adopted the exact language of the Model Rules, including the comment. These rules are not exclusive and may or may not be relevant in any case. Reasonableness is a case-by-case determination.


Paragraph 7 of the Rule 1.5 Comment adds a competency requirement to any referral. WRPC Rule 1.1 states:

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

A lawyer should either already possess the skills, knowledge, and experience needed for representation or be able to gain the needed skills and knowledge through reasonable preparation. Depending on the matter at hand, specialized skills or knowledge may be required.

Competency must be maintained throughout representation. This includes staying current on any relevant changes or revisions to the law.


Wyoming allows attorneys to split fees when all attorneys are competent to handle the representation and fees are reasonable. A split must be based on services performed or assuming joint responsibility.

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