84-38. Solicitation of retainer or contract for legal services prohibited; division of fees.

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation, or association or his or their agent, agents, or employees, acting on his or their behalf, to solicit or procure through solicitation either directly or indirectly, any legal business, whether to be performed in this State or elsewhere, or to solicit or procure through solicitation either directly or indirectly, a retainer or contract, written or oral, or any agreement authorizing an attorney or any other person, firm, corporation, or association to perform or render any legal services, whether to be performed in this State or elsewhere.

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation, or association to divide with or receive from any attorney-at-law, or group of attorneys-at-law, whether practicing in this State or elsewhere, either before or after action is brought, any portion of any fee or compensation charged or received by such attorney-at-law, or any valuable consideration or reward, as an inducement for placing or in consideration of being placed in the hands of such attorney or attorneys-at-law, or in the hands of another person, firm, corporation or association, a claim or demand of any kind, for the purpose of collecting such claim or instituting an action thereon or of representing claimant in the pursuit of any civil remedy for the recovery thereof, or for the settlement or compromise thereof, whether such compromise, settlement, recovery, suit, claim, collection or demand shall be in this State or elsewhere. This paragraph shall not apply to agreements between attorneys to divide compensation received in cases or matters legitimately, lawfully and properly received by them.

Any person, firm, corporation or association of persons violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The council of the North Carolina State Bar is hereby authorized and empowered to investigate and bring action against persons charged with violations of this section and the provisions as set forth in G.S. 84-37 shall apply. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to supersede the authority of district attorneys to seek injunctive relief or institute criminal proceedings in the same manner as provided for in G.S. 84-7. Nothing herein shall be construed as abridging the inherent powers of the courts to deal with such matters. (1947, c. 573; 1973, c. 47, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, s. 599; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)