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Clash of Titans: Groupon v. The Model Rules of Professional Conduct

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ABSTRACT: Daily deals, like those offered by Groupon and LivingSocial, have become a popular and highly effective form of advertising. The success of daily deals is not without concern in the legal community. State bar associations are split as to whether the Model Rules of Professional Conduct—namely Rules 5.4, 7.2, and 1.15—permit lawyers to advertise through daily deals. This Note argues that lawyers may ethically sell their services through daily deals as a reasonable cost of advertising authorized by Rule 7.2 and that the fee retained by the daily deal company is not an impermissible fee-sharing arrangement outlawed by Rule 5.4. Instead, such fees should be considered an alternative way of charging for advertising— one that will not interfere with the lawyer’s professional independence. Moreover, the flexible daily deal business model enables lawyers to comply with the client trust requirements of Rule 1.15.

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