An organization representing Avvo and other attorney marketing and referral services, and the institutions intent on keeping a tight leash on such services in New Jersey, are asking the state’s highest court to weigh in on the attendant ethics concerns—and putting the significance of the resolution in no uncertain terms.

Currently before the court is a petition for certification, and filings in opposition, in connection with a June 2017 opinion from three ethics committees that took aim at Avvo, as well as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer. The opinion, jointly issued by the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, the Committee on Attorney Advertising and the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, found that Avvo facilitates improper fee-splitting and may not be utilized by New Jersey lawyers, while LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer operate legal service plans that weren’t registered with the judiciary.

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