Protocols & Guidelines
RULE 1. Statement of Purpose and Mission
1.1 Mission of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. Lawyer Registration Service:
- Register prescreened, insured, and qualified attorneys based on the needs of the client, proximity of the client to the attorney’s office and resources of the client
- Provide general information about lawyers and the availability of legal services that will aid the selection of a lawyer;
- Provide information to government agencies, pro bono and non-profit legal organizations as is appropriate.
1.2 Practice Area Panels:
- The Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. Lawyer Registration Service will always have qualified in insured attorneys (referred to as “member” or “members” on the Practice Area Panels that can effectively represent clients in any area of law.
- The lawyer registration service shall have Administrators also referred to as Administration, half of which are licensed attorneys and are legal experts.
- The Administration shall also consist of non-attorney members that are highly qualified experts in technology, web development and internet marketing.
RULE 2. Requirements, Fees, and Responsibilities of Practice Area Panel Members IF Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. becomes a state bar approved lawyer referral service.
2.1 Practice Area Panel members are bound by the following:
- The rules of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. Lawyer Registration Service which may change over time.
- Changes in the Practice Area Panel rules will be sent via email to all members as updates occur.
- All state bar rules and rules of professional responsibility for lawyers.
2.2 Disclosures. In the event that Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. becomes a State Bar of California approved lawyer referral service as opposed to a directory, all Practice Area Panel members explicitly and implicitly agree as follows:
- Allow the information contained in the Practice Area Panel Member application may be used to verify eligibility to participate in the service and other requirements and shared with the California State Bar as required.
- All Practice Area Panel members need to reasonably respond to all inquiries by Real Deal Attorneys, Inc., respond within a reasonable time period, with any information requested by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. regarding a client complaints, percentage fees or other financial reconciliation, (e.g., settlement agreement, disbursement documents, settlement checks, retainers, invoices and billings, if applicable.) or the status of any matter as it pertains to the Practice Area Panel member by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- Authorize the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. to contact any Client tied to the Member by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. in order to obtain information regarding the Registration.
- Disclose to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc., pursuant to California Civil Code Section 43.95, any pending State Bar of California filed formal charges and/or discipline.
- Allow the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. to communicate with Members electronically.
- Provide and update the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. with any updated contact information.
2.3 Certification of Eligibility. Each Member shall certify electronically that said Member:
- Is not the subject of any disciplinary proceedings or findings of any kind.
- Has an office and a regular practice in Los Angeles County.
- Has met the qualifications standards for all Practice Area Panels that the members have applied and/or been deemed a member of.
2.4 Insurance. Each Member shall agree electronically to:
- Maintain in force, while a member of the Service, a policy of insurance which covers professional errors and omissions in the minimum amount of $100,000 per act with a $300,000 annual aggregate.
- Provide the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. with evidence of such coverage by submitting a copy of the face sheet thereof each year.
- Immediately notify the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. of any change in or cancellation or non-renewal of the required coverage.
2.5 Annual Registration Fees.
- The Members shall pay a membership fee of $200 per year.
- The fees for the first year of membership may in whole or in part be waived in the sole discretion of the administrators.
2.6 In the event this directory becomes a state bar approved lawyer referral service, the members shall be responsible for the following: Percentage Fees.
- Member shall pay to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. percentage fees, in accordance with current established fee schedules in the amount of 20%, based on the total attorneys’ fees received by the Members, partners, contract attorneys associated with the case, associates, or by any attorney to whom the matter has been transferred, with or without the consent of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- Percentage fees shall be based on the total attorneys’ fees that arise out of the subject matter of the original registration or out of any matter raised in the initial consultation.
- Members shall not increase, either directly or indirectly, the cost of total attorneys’ fees charged to any Client registered with Real Deal Attorneys, Inc., to cover fees Members owe to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- Members shall pay to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. percentage fees described in these rules regardless of any attorneys’ fees expended to collect such percentage fees.
2.7 General Fee Requirements. Each Members shall agree electronically to:
- Remit all fees due to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. within thirty-one days of collection by the Member.
- Hold in trust that portion of all fees collected by the Member which are due the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. pursuant to the current Rules and Program Descriptions.
- Submit any fee dispute with a client registered with the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. to binding arbitration, if the client so elects.
- Be personally responsible for all reports and fees due the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. related to any client registered by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. and all matters discussed at the Initial Consultation, whether or not the matters fit within the specific category made by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- Pay interest at the rate of 10% per annum on all amounts past due and owed to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- Report to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. truthfully, without misrepresenting or omitting material facts.
- Assume the burden of proof in reporting on financial matters related to any Registration.
- Provide documents that may include, but are not limited to, court related documents, finance related documents, correspondence, a combination of these types of documents and/or any other documents that accurately reconcile the amount of percentage fees to be paid.
2.8 Indemnification and Attorneys’ Fees for Enforcement of Rules. Each Member shall agree electronically to:
- Indemnify and hold harmless Real Deal Attorneys, Inc., and all of their officers, directors, members, employees, and volunteers from any and all loss, expense and liability including the cost of defense and reasonable attorneys’ fees which may arise from or be related to the Member’s participation in the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- Pay the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs in any action or proceeding brought to enforce any provision of these Rules.
- Submit to binding arbitration to resolve disputes between the Administration and the Member.
RULE 3. Member Records
3.1 Information Regularly Furnished to Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- Each Member is required to furnish the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. with current information regarding the status of each matter at the time the status of any case changes, the total fee paid by all clients at the time such fees are paid, and such additional information as may become necessary.
- Each Member is required to create and maintain accurate records which allow the Member to report properly to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc., including documents reconciling attorneys’ fees paid to the Member.
3.2 Audit by Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- All Members shall make available for audit upon request of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. all office files, records, accounts, ledgers, and other records related to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
3.3 Service Files. A file for each Member shall be maintained at the office of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
RULE 4. Registration Procedures
4.1 Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. Procedures. The following registration procedures shall be employed by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.:
- All prospective clients shall be directed to a Member on a rotation basis;
- If a Member declines to make an appointment for an Initial Consultation with a Client during office hours at a time satisfactory to the Client (who may insist upon an appointment within (3) business days) following the initial contact with Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. The client may be referred to another member.
- All registrations shall be made without regard to race, color, age, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability;
- In-house legal advice shall be given only by attorneys duly licensed to practice law in the State of California.
4.2 Member Handling of Registration. Each Member agrees to employ the following Registration procedures:
- Promptly notify the Real Deal Attorneys, any Client who will not be personally represented by the Member (or by an attorney acting under the Member’s direct supervision) or with whom a conflict of interest exists (which must be determined at the outset of the Registration);
- Discuss with the Client in advance any compensation for additional time or services beyond the one-half hour Initial Consultation. Any additional services to be performed for or fees to be charged to the Client must be clearly discussed and understood between the Member and the Client, including whether retained attorney may, in certain instances, use employees or co-counsel to attend routine hearings or address other non-substantive or routine tasks related to the client’s case. It is recommended that a written fee agreement, outlining the work to be performed and the basis for the fee, be signed by the Client before the Client is charged any fees. Except as otherwise provided by law, the failure to have a written fee agreement 1) shall be an absolute defense for the Client to any action by the Member for compensation for any extension of the initial consultation beyond one-half hour, and 2) shall raise a rebuttable presumption that the Client did not agree to hire the Member for any services beyond the initial consultation and that the Member is not entitled to any fees;
- Personally perform the legal services required on behalf of a Client registered by the Service, or directly supervise and be responsible for the quality of services performed by an attorney working under the Member’s direct supervision;
- Handle a Client registered by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. without regard to the Client’s race, color, age, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, and with the same courtesy and diligence as is shown to non-Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. clients; and
- Accept as appropriate for the Initial Consultation the decision of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. as to which Member, panel or subpanel a Client is to be registered.
- Not register a client who needs ancillary services to another attorney that happens to provide such services. If the client retained the attorney, the Member will be responsible for the quality of services performed, and all percentage fees and reports due to the service in relation to the attorney’s representation of the client.
- Respond to any electronically sent rules violation notice within ten (10) calendar days of the notice date unless other arrangements are made.
4.3 Exception to Rule 4.2.
- If after undertaking representation of a Client registered with the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc., a Member determines in good faith that the Client’s best interest would be served by associating a particular attorney having special expertise in a relevant field, the Member must consult with the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. before associating or retaining such counsel, attempt to identify with the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. another Member who has the requisite expertise and who is willing and able to accept the representation, and, if acceptable to the Member and Client, associate or retain such other Member. If the Member and Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. are unable to identify any other qualified Member acceptable to the Member and the Client, the Member and the Client shall be entitled to send the matter to or associate other counsel of their choice, provided that such other counsel meets all requirements of the State Bar’s Minimum Standards and these Rules. Member shall continue to be responsible for all reports due, information required, and percentage fees owed the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. based on Member’s share of all fees actually collected. Member shall exercise reasonable diligence to obtain from other counsel written agreement to be governed and bound by these Rules, including the duty to pay the percentage fee due the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. on the new counsel’s share of all fees actually collected, and shall notify the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. of the new counsel’s name, address, and the fee arrangements made.
- The Business panel is an exception to 4.2 (a), which requires a free consultation for a reasonable period of time. Panel members will have the option to charge $100 as a consultation fee. Panel members will administrate the consultation fee. For reporting and percentage fees, consultation fee shall be construed as attorneys’ fees and subject to percentage fees. The panel shall maintain at least three panel members in each county it serves that do not charge a consultation fee.
4.4 Violations of Rule 4.
- If a Member registers a matter to or associates new counsel in violation of these Rules, the Member shall continue to be responsible for the quality of the services performed, and all fees and reports due the Service, as if the Member had performed these services.
4.5 Any Member with State Bar discipline of any kind will not be able to register with Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
RULE 5. Membership Application Procedures
5.1 Application Forms.
- Application for membership on the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. shall be made electronically on forms provided by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. and approved by the Administrators.
5.2 General Eligibility.
- Membership on the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. is limited to active members of the State Bar of California in good standing, who regularly practice and maintain an office in any county the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. is certified to operate in, who maintain an email account and facsimile number, who agree electronically to be bound by the Rules of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc., and who maintain in force, while a member of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc., a policy of insurance which covers professional errors and omissions in the minimum amount of $100,000 per act with a $300,000 annual aggregate.
- Re-applicants shall be required to correct any delinquencies concerning their membership records before their application for new membership is considered by the Administrators.
- Each Re-applicant must also submit a written statement describing the reason(s) for seeking reapplication.
- A Re-applicant who was previously removed from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. shall submit a written explanation of whether and how such Re-applicant has corrected any unresolved delinquencies related to the prior membership.
5.4 Complete Applications.
- Members shall not be considered for membership until their application is complete, as determined by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
5.5 Administrators as Members.
- Administrators are eligible to be practice area panel membership during the period of their Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
5.6 Applicable Time Periods for Review of Applications.
- Each completed application shall be approved or disapproved within one hundred (100) days of filing, except as described in subsection (b).
- Within forty-five (45) days of receipt of a completed application, the Administrators shall determine whether the Member has demonstrated substantial compliance by showing equivalent minimum experience or other equivalent qualifications.
- An appeal to the Administrators shall be granted or denied within forty-five (45) days of receipt of the written notice of appeal unless time is extended with the Member’s consent.
5.7 Staff Review. A Member’s completed written application shall be initially reviewed by the staff of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. to determine compliance with all general eligibility rules and qualifications for a particular panel. As to a Member who has never before been a member of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.:
- The Administration of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. determines that there is compliance with all general eligibility rules and qualifications for a particular panel, the Member shall be accepted as a member of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
RULE 6. Suspension and Removal
6.1 Automatic Suspension. A Member shall automatically be withdrawn from rotation and maybe suspended from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. in the following circumstances:
- The Member has been suspended, disbarred or has resigned from the State Bar of California;
- Annual registration fees, percentage fees, or administrative fees become more than sixty (60) days past due;
- Reports and forms due the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc., including all requested information and all fees owed, are more than sixty (60) days past due;
- The Member fails to submit a copy of the face sheet of the Member’s errors and omissions insurance policy within the time period required upon notice from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
6.2 Hold or Suspension for Good Cause. Any Member may be put on hold or suspended from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. by the Administrators, for good cause, which includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Indictment on or conviction of a criminal charge involving moral turpitude;
- Falsification of any material statement made to qualify for the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. or made in any report required by the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.;
- Failure to permit the Service to inspect the Member’s records pursuant to these Rules;
- Failure to maintain eligibility and qualifications under these Rules;
- Failure to handle Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. cases with professional competence and diligence;
- Failure to comply with the State Bar Act or the Rules of Professional Conduct;
- Charging fees to clients registered with the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. which are in excess of fees authorized by law;
- Repeated abusive conduct to Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. clients and/or Administration;
- Failure to comply with the Rules of the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc..
- Failure to make contact due to unreported vacation status, bounced email, or non-working phone number. The Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. will make the best effort to communicate with the Member, including using the contact information listed on the State Bar of California’s website.
6.3 Alternative to Suspension.
- As an alternative to suspension in the case of Members who have before the Committee, or a subcommittee thereof, to rectify specific problems identified in one or more complaints received from client(s) helping the Member, the Committee, or a subcommittee thereof, may develop a Remedial Action Plan (“Plan”) as a requirement for continued membership on the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- If the Member does not comply with the Plan within the time specified in the Plan, the Chair of the Administration may proceed to suspend the Member.
6.4 Notice of Hold or Suspension. If a Member is placed on hold or suspended from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. pursuant to Rules 6.1-6.3 above, the Member shall be notified, using the Member’s last registered email address, in writing within five (5) working days of the action, such notification to include the reasons for the action.
6.5 Reinstatement from Rule 6.1 (b) (c) or (d) Suspension. Any Member who has been suspended from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. pursuant to Rules 7.1 (b), (c), or (d) above, may be reinstated on the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. after payment of all fees and submission of all required materials. The Administration may deny the Member’s request for reinstatement and elect to continue the suspension after providing the Member with written notice thereof. Any such continuance of suspension may be appealed pursuant to these Rules.
6.6 Notice of Appeal from Suspension. A Member may appeal a suspension by providing written notice to the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc. within thirty (30) days of written notice from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
6.7 Automatic Removal.
- If the Member fails to appeal any suspension pursuant to these Rules, the Member shall be removed from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- Any Member who is suspended pursuant to these Rules at least three times within a two (2) year period shall automatically be removed from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
6.8 Qualifications Review.
- Upon the timely filing of a notice of appeal, the matter shall be sent to the Administration for a decision as to whether the Member shall be removed from the Real Deal Attorneys, Inc.
- A Member who has filed a timely notice of appeal shall be given the opportunity to make a written or oral response to the Administration.
- The Administration shall render a written decision in any such matter within forty- five (45) days of the Member’s filing of a notice of appeal, unless time is extended with the Member’s consent.
RULE 7. Amendment
7.1 Amendment Permitted. These Rules may be amended from time to time by a majority vote of the Administrators, subject to ratification by the Board of Trustees.
7.2 Distribution to Members Required. Any amendment to these Rules shall, following adoption, be distributed to all Members who shall be bound thereby.