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Yale Law Journal

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Attorney fees awarded to prevailing plaintiffs by statute are a significant source of funding for nonprofit public interest groups that sponsor litigation. Nearly all such organizations require staff attorneys to turn over all court-awarded fees to the organization, and many organizations require cooperating attorneys to turn over all or part of any fees resulting from cases sponsored by the organizations. Yet a rule of legal ethics that prohibits lawyers from sharing legal fees with nonlawyers may jeopardize this important source of funding. This Article explores whether the rule against fee sharing with nonlawyers can or should be enforced against lawyers who agree to assign statutory legal fees to nonprofit public interest groups.