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Using Credit Cards with a Rewards Program

Lawyers must provide full disclosure to their clients about fees and financial matters – section 3.6-1 commentary [2]. Because of that duty, lawyers are prohibited from accepting any of the following compensation related to professional employment from someone other than a client:

  • fees,
  • rewards,
  • costs,
  • commissions,
  • interest,
  • rebates,
  • allowances, or
  • other compensation.

However, a lawyer can accept compensation listed above where the lawyer provides full disclosure to the client and gets the consent of the client (section 3.6-1 commentary [2]). Where a lawyer is being paid by a legal aid agency, borrower or personal representative, the rule is modified – in those cases, consent is required of the person that is paying.

With respect to credit cards, any reward such as points towards travel or cashback for using the card must be disclosed to the client unless it is only a small financial gain. A small financial gain is one that results from a single purchase of less than $5,000 or a series of transactions over the course of a month that total less than that amount. Where it is more than a small financial gain, the client’s consent is necessary before the card is used. And as a general rule, if a lawyer may use a credit card with a rewards program in the course of matter, he or she lawyers must inform clients in writing.


Reasonable Fees and Disbursements: section 3.6-1 (Code of Professional Conduct)

Related Topics:

Credit Card Transactions

Reasonable Fees

Handling Cash

Trust Cheques

Managing Money

Law Office Organization and Administration

(Posted: June 12, 2020)