Rule 7.6 Intermediary Organizations

Editor’s Note:  This rule was modified by Order of the Tennessee Supreme Court In December, 2021 and became effective January 1, 2022.  It was further modified by the Court’s Order of May 12, 2022.


(a) An intermediary organization is a lawyer-advertising cooperative, lawyer referral service, lawyer matching service, online marketing platform, prepaid legal insurance provider, or other similar organization that engages in referring consumers of legal services to lawyers or facilitating the creation of lawyer-client relationships between consumers of legal services and lawyers willing to provide assistance for which the organization does not bear ultimate responsibility. A tribunal appointing or assigning lawyers to represent parties before the tribunal or a government agency performing such functions on behalf of a tribunal is not an intermediary organization under this Rule.


(b) Before and while participating in an intermediary organization, a lawyer shall be licensed and in good standing to practice law in Tennessee and shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the intermediary organization’s conduct complies with the professional obligations of the lawyer, including the following conditions:
(1) The intermediary organization does not direct or regulate the lawyer’s professional judgment in rendering legal services to the client;
(2) The intermediary organization, including its agents and employees, does not engage in improper solicitation prohibited by RPC 7.3;
(3) The intermediary organization makes the criteria for inclusion available to prospective clients, including any payment made or arranged by the lawyer(s) participating in the service and any fee charged to the client for use of the service at the outset of the client’s interaction with the intermediary organization;
(4) The function of the referral arrangement between lawyer and intermediary organization is fully disclosed to the client at the outset of the client’s interaction with the lawyer;
(5) The intermediary organization does not require the lawyer to pay more than a reasonable sum representing a proportional share of the organization’s administrative and advertising costs, or, in the case of a non-profit intermediary organization, a referral fee calculated by reference to a reasonable percentage of the fee paid to the lawyer by the client referred to the lawyer by the non-profit intermediary organization;
(6) The intermediary organization is not owned, controlled, or directed by the lawyer, a law firm with which the lawyer is associated, or a lawyer with whom the lawyer is associated in a firm; and
(c) If a lawyer discovers the intermediary organization’s noncompliance with the lawyer’s professional obligations or any of the conditions in paragraph (b), the lawyer shall either withdraw from participation or seek to correct the noncompliance. If the intermediary organization fails to correct the noncompliance, the lawyer must withdraw from participation.



[1] For there to be equal access to justice, there must be equal access to lawyers. For there to be equal access to lawyers, potential clients must be able to find lawyers and have the economic resources needed to pay the lawyers a reasonable fee for their services. In an effort to assist prospective clients to find and be able to retain competent lawyers, lawyers and nonlawyers alike have formed a variety of organizations designed to bring clients and lawyers together and to provide a vehicle through which the lawyers can be fairly compensated and the clients can afford the services they need. Some of these intermediary organizations operate as charities. Others operate as businesses. Because they ultimately bear the liability of their insureds, liability insurance companies that pay for or otherwise provide lawyers to defend their insureds are not intermediary organizations within the meaning of this Rule. Similarly, the process by which tribunals or court agencies appoint or assign lawyers to represent parties should carry with it appropriate safeguards outside of this Rule, and these activities are likewise exempted from this Rule.
[2] The requirements set forth in paragraph (b) are intended to protect the clients who are represented by lawyers to whom they have been referred or assigned by an intermediary organization. It is the responsibility of each lawyer who would participate in the activities of an intermediary organization to make reasonable efforts to ascertain that the organization’s conduct complies with the professional obligations of the lawyer, including the conditions set forth in paragraph (b). If a lawyer discovers that an intermediary organization is operating in any of the ways prohibited by paragraph (b), the lawyer shall not begin participation with the intermediary organization. If a lawyer is already participating with an intermediary organization when the lawyer comes to learn of the noncompliance, the lawyer shall either terminate the lawyer’s participation with the intermediary organization or seek to have the intermediary organization correct the noncompliance to allow the lawyer’s continued participation.

Definitional Cross-References

“Firm” and “law firm” See RPC 1.0(c)

“Reasonably should know” See RPC 1.0(j)


Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8: Rules of Professional Conduct Copyright © 2021 by BirdDog Law, LLC (No copyright claimed as to government works.). All Rights Reserved.