General Counsel on www.OKbar.org

Frequently Asked Ethics Questions

By Gina Hendryx and Travis Pickens

It is probably a good sign that ethics issues count for many of the questions posed to members of the OBA staff. Lawyers are people who like to follow the rules, and it is one of our goals to make it easier for lawyers to follow them, especially when the rules involve the Rules of Professional Conduct and the supervision of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. We have selected some of the questions most often asked (or the most interesting) and provided an advisory response. Practitioners should keep in mind that the ultimate authority in ethics issues is the Oklahoma Supreme Court; everyone else is simply providing the best guidance they can. Any ethics question can be addressed to Ethics Counsel by telephone at (405) 416-7055 or by e-mail at travisp@okbar.org.

1) What is the difference between the OBA’s Offices of General Counsel and Ethics Counsel?

Generally, under the supervision of the Professional Responsibility Commission, the Office of General Counsel is charged with the investigation and prosecution of alleged misconduct or incapacity of any lawyer. The procedures are outlined in the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings.1

The Office of Ethics Counsel was created to provide all Oklahoma lawyers a resource for specific and confidential guidance as to ethics questions and to encourage the proactive consideration and handling of ethics issues. The guidance provided is a privileged, confidential communication and is not shared with the office of General Counsel (unless at the lawyer’s request in responding to a bar complaint).

2) Am I responsible for the conduct of nonlawyers such as paralegals and law clerks I supervise?

Nonlawyers such as student law clerks and paralegals are not directly bound by the ORPC, but their supervising lawyers are and must make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has effected precautionary measures and the nonlawyer assistants’ conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer. The supervising lawyer will be responsible for the ORPC violations of the people they supervise if the supervising lawyer orders, ratifies or fails to mitigate the result of the misconduct.3 “Measures” is a key word. Measures could include requiring staff to read the rules annually, discuss the rules with their supervising attorneys and to audit CLE ethics courses. The measures should be set out in the employee’s employment contract.

3) Is there a “federal” code of professional conduct?

There is not a “national” code of professional conduct, although federal courts have their own admission requirements and local rules that must be followed and which may provide rules of “conduct.” The ABA has promulgated “model” rules of professional conduct that have been widely adopted by various states, with various modifications. The Oklahoma ORPC closely tracks the ABA’s model rules, making ABA ethics opinions a helpful research resource. The Oklahoma modifications to the ABA rules are set out in the comments that follow each Rule of Professional Conduct.

4) With what code of professional conduct am I bound when I am practicing law outside the state of Oklahoma, when in a case pro hac vice for example?

As an Oklahoma lawyer, you are subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction regardless of where the conduct occurs – as is an out-of-state lawyer practicing in Oklahoma. You may be subject to the disciplinary authorities of both jurisdictions for the same conduct.4

Choice of law rules in the ORPC seek to limit the exercise of only one set of rules to a lawyer. Generally, with matters pending before a tribunal, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the tribunal sits will control.5 For any other conduct, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer’s conduct occurred should control, unless the predominant effect of the conduct is in a different jurisdiction.6

5) Are the “Standards of Professionalism” and “Lawyer’s Creed” adopted by the OBA Board of Governors part of the ORPC?

No. The “Standards of Professionalism” and “Lawyer’s Creed” found on the OBA Web site are separate from the ORPC. They were promulgated by the OBA Board of Governors to articulate the high ideals and civil behavior that every Oklahoma lawyer should emulate and honor. They were not intended as a basis for discipline or to establish standards of conduct in an action brought against a lawyer.

6) Does the violation of a ORPC give rise to a cause of action or a presumption that a legal duty has been breached?

No. The rules are designed to provide guidance and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through disciplinary agencies. They are not designed to be a basis for civil liability.7

7) What resources are available to attorneys on ethics issues through the Office of Ethics Counsel?

There are a variety of resources:
  • Use the Ethics Council tab on the OBA’s Web site, www.okbar.org. The tab has links to applicable rules, comments, opinions, ethics articles and tips.
  • E-mail your question to the Ethics Counsel at travisp@okbar.org
  • Call the Ethics Counsel at (405) 416-7055, or toll-free at 1 (800) 522-8065.

8) What should I expect when I call or write the Ethics Counsel with a question?

The office is a resource for lawyers with questions pertaining to their own practices and cases. Therefore, when you call with a question pertaining to your own situation, the advice will be advisory in nature, but still direct and specific. Research into Oklahoma ethics opinions, ABA ethics opinions and case law may be necessary to give you the best advisory advice possible based upon the time allowed.
If you call with respect to the behavior or ethical issue as to another lawyer, counsel will endeavor to provide you references to the portions of the ORPC and ethical opinions or cases that may apply to the question but does not offer an “opinion” or pre-judge the situation as there are undoubtedly other pertinent facts or factors that might affect the advice. The Ethics Counsel does not arbitrate or “decide” ethics issues.

No advice or ethics guidance is provided to clients or members of the general public who may call except perhaps for polite referral to the OBA’s Web site. The Office of Ethics Counsel is a resource to help members of the OBA. On average, 10-20 calls or contacts with ethics questions are made to the office each day.

9) What is the procedure to obtain a written ethics opinion?

Advisory opinions of the Ethics Counsel are primarily informal and by telephone or e-mail, although written materials are sometimes forwarded or a written response provided in appropriate instances.
The OBA Legal Ethics Advisory Panel (LEAP), on the other hand, serves in an advisory capacity for OBA members seeking formal written opinions concerning compliance with the ORPC. The opinions are intended as a guide to responsible professional behavior. Advisory opinions are simply that, and are non-binding. Binding interpretation and application of the Rules of Professional Conduct remain exclusively with the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The Legal Ethics Advisory Panel is a body made up of two divisions, one sitting in Tulsa County and the other in Oklahoma County. Requests are made to the panel coordinator (the rules for application are on the OBA’s Web site). The request should relate to prospective conduct only and contain a complete statement of facts pertaining to the intended conduct, together with a clear, concise question of legal ethics. The panel then votes to accept or reject the request. It must raise a serious ethical issue of general concern. The opinion will focus only upon the Rules of Professional Conduct, not issues of law being litigated. No LEAP opinion shall be binding on any lawyer disciplinary body. The opinions shall not be construed to be anything other than advisory in nature; however, following the guidance given can help avoid harmful ethical missteps and can be used as a mitigating factor in the event of disciplinary scrutiny.

10) Is there a duty to self-report?

No, although it may be used as a mitigating factor in the event of a later disciplinary review.

11) How long should I keep a closed case file?

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer to this question. Most state ethics committees agree that lawyers are not obligated to keep client files indefinitely. However, most jurisdictions concur that “clients and former clients reasonably expect from their lawyers that valuable and useful information in the lawyer’s files, and not otherwise readily available to the clients, will not be prematurely and carelessly destroyed.”8
The ORPC do not provide specific direction or guidelines on the subject of file retention. However, ORPC 1.15(a) does require that complete records of client account funds (trust accounts) and other client property be kept for five years after termination of the representation.
The length of time that a file should be retained may depend on various factors, such as:
  • Files pertaining to claims of minors should be maintained until the child is beyond the age of majority and any statutes of limitations have expired.
  • Some probate, estate and/or guardianship matters may require an indeterminate retention period.
  • Real estate title opinions and title insurance work may require a far more lengthy retention of work product.
  • Statutes of limitation.
  • The nature of the particular case and related substantive law.
  • The client’s needs.
  • Your fee agreement or other understanding with the client.

Requirements of your malpractice carrier.

12) Should our firm have a document retention policy?

Yes. All lawyers and law firms should implement a written file storage, management and retention policy and should follow the policy uniformly. Some provisions for the retention policy should include:
  • Files will be maintained only for a specified period of time.
  • Original documents will be returned to the client upon conclusion of the representation.
  • The client may have the file upon expiration of the time period.
If not retrieved by the client, the file will be destroyed once the time period passes.

Clients should be sent a closing letter notifying them of their right to take any documents not previously furnished to them and advising them of the date that the file documents will be destroyed. The policy can be made a part of the client’s fee agreement.

13) How should I dispose of a client’s file material?

A lawyer must protect a client’s confidences when disposing of file contents. This generally means that the file must be shredded or incinerated. Care should be taken if these tasks are contracted to outside companies. The lawyer should ensure that documents are disposed of without review of confidential information by the contractor’s employees or others. There are companies familiar with these duties of confidentiality that market specifically to law firms.

You should consider retaining an index of destroyed files, copies of your fee agreement, as well as any other key documents.

14) What rights do I have to retain the file from the client or successor counsel if I have not been paid?

Two different scenarios prompt the same inquiry. Is it proper to retain, until the fee is paid, a client’s papers, money and other property that came into the attorney’s possession in the course of the professional employment? Oklahoma recognizes the common law retaining lien, also known as a general lien or possessory lien. The retaining lien is an attorney’s claim to hold a client’s file, money or property until the fee is satisfied. The retaining lien may be applicable when a client’s failure to comply with a fee agreement has led to a lawyer’s withdrawal or when a client has discharged an attorney and there remains an outstanding fee balance.

In the case Britton and Gray PC v. Shelton,9 the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals set forth guidelines to assist in determining when it is proper to assert and enforce a retaining lien. “Oklahoma law recognizes two types of lien by which a lawyer may secure payment for services: 1) a statutory charging lien and 2) a common-law general possessory or retaining lien.... The retaining lien generally attaches to all property, papers, documents, securities and monies of the client coming into the hands of the attorney in the course of the professional employment.”

However, “a lawyer [may not] take money or property entrusted to him for a ‘specific purpose’ and apply it to the attorney’s fee claim.”10 For example, money paid to an attorney for the “specific purpose” of taking a deposition would not be subject to a retaining lien.

In Britton, the court held that the assertion of a retaining lien that is prejudicial to the client is inconsistent with the lawyer’s continuing duty to the client. When determining whether or not to claim a retaining lien to original documents you should assess 1) whether the client will suffer serious consequences without the documents and 2) whether any prejudice to the client can be mitigated by means other than a return of the documents.
A valid retaining lien will only attach when there are reasonable fees due and owing. It may not be asserted for legal services not yet performed, whether or not the client has agreed to pay for the future services. The attorney claiming the lien has the burden of proof on reasonableness and indebtedness. Once met, it is upon the client to prove prejudice.

In short, the attorney’s legal rights to secure payment for services rendered must be balanced with the ethical responsibilities not to harm the client.11 This overarching consideration makes this collection tool somewhat dangerous to employ. Frankly, there are better ways to ensure payment.

Before you hold a client’s file “hostage,” weigh the competing factors:

By holding the property, do I prejudice the client’s ability to go forward with the matter?
  • Can the client get the retained material by other means?
  • Are my fees reasonable?
  • Are my claimed fees for completed work?

15) When is it proper to communicate with a represented person?

ORPC 4.2 prohibits a lawyer from communicating about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized by law to do so. By restricting lawyers from communicating directly with persons who are represented, Rule 4.2 preserves the attorney-client relationship, protects clients against overreaching by other lawyers and reduces the likelihood that clients will disclose confidential or damaging information.12

The rule applies even though the represented person initiates the communication. You should immediately terminate the conversation once you learn the person is represented in the matter.

16) May I give a second opinion?

Yes, if you are as yet uninvolved in the matter.13

17) What if I am not sure the person is represented?

Consent of the opposing lawyer is not required to talk with a represented person unless you know a person is represented. “Knowledge” has been defined as actual knowledge, but it may be inferred from the circumstances. The smart thing to do is to ask first.14

18) What if their client calls my client?

A party to a matter may speak to other parties, even though both are represented by counsel. See ORPC 4.2. However, a lawyer may not “mastermind” the communications between a client and a represented person in an effort to elicit confidential information or a settlement.

19) Is videotaping the opposing party the same as “communicating”?

Observing a party is not the same as “communicating” with the party.15

However, taking the act beyond mere observation to contact with the represented person may be improper. A lawyer should not cause a nonlawyer to contact a represented person. The lawyer may not use an investigator or other person to do what the attorney may not. Therefore, the investigator should not engage the represented person in conversation or ex parte communications.
A lawyer should not necessarily accept a person’s statement that he has fired his attorney. Some states hold that you must contact the opposing counsel to confirm the termination. At a minimum, one should get written confirmation from the client that the attorney has been fired. ABA Formal Ethics Op. 95-396 (1995) states that a lawyer should seek confirmation that a representation has been terminated. In a case involving a court appointment, the lawyer should confirm that the court has granted counsel leave to withdraw.

These are only but a few of the dilemmas faced by attorneys when complying with Rule 4.2 communications. Much more complex issues are raised when the represented party is an organization with current and former employees. Care should be taken to review the applicable case law before contacting persons who may be represented in a matter. Violation of the rule may result in suppression of the evidence, return of documents, monetary sanctions, disqualification, and discipline.

20) My client owes me a lot of money for legal services and advanced expenses. May I charge the client interest on the unpaid balance?

Yes, assuming the money is overdue and the client has agreed. See Ethics Opinion No. 286, which can be found at www.okbar.org/ethics/286.htm. Ethics Opinion No. 286 notes that attention should be paid to applicable state and federal law.
In light of the Committee’s opinion it merits mention that there are specific requirements under the Oklahoma Uniform Consumer Credit Code providing for the disclosure of interest under various situations. It is suggested that the attorney review the statutes before proceeding with the charging of interest so that he fully complies with the requirements applicable to his situation.
Ethics Opinion No. 286 does not explicitly require the agreement to be memorialized nor does Oklahoma require all fee agreements to be in writing. ORPC 1.5 requires only contingency fees be in writing while encouraging other fee agreements to be communicated to the client in writing. However, if an Oklahoma attorney intends to attach finance charges to an unpaid legal fee, he would be wise to get the client’s agreement to same in writing. The following are suggested:
  • Communicate the basis or rate of the fee along with the intent to charge interest on any unpaid balance to the client both orally and in writing.
  • Communicate to the client how the interest will be computed both orally and in writing.
  • Affirm the client’s agreement to the fee and interest by having the client sign the fee agreement.
  • Keep the original of the fee agreement and give the client a copy.
  • The interest rate must be reasonable, within legal limits, and not usurious.
  • The total amount sought from the client (fees plus interest) must be reasonable.

21) Can I lend a client money?

It is not uncommon during the course of litigation for a client, especially one with a pending injury claim, to ask for financial assistance from his or her attorney. The request may be for an “advance,” “loan” or “guarantee.” Regardless of the form, ORPC 1.8(e) provides “A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that a lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter.”

Advancing living expenses (e.g. rent) to a client is prohibited in Oklahoma.16

The exception for “costs” and “expenses” encompasses most of the generally accepted charges directly associated with litigation. Costs include filing fees, fees for service of process, and other disbursements that are taxable and included in the judgment.17 Expenses of litigation have been interpreted to include investigation costs, expenses of medical examinations, and the costs of obtaining and presenting evidence. Fees for legitimate travel related to litigation have been held to be expenses of litigation. However, other jurisdictions have held the advancement of funds for transportation to a medical office for treatment or for payment of treatment to be improper.

The rule prohibits an attorney from making a loan to a client and likewise prohibits the “guaranteeing” of same. The attorney, subject to attorney/client confidence considerations, may confirm the pendency of a settlement and recognize any lawfully obtained liens or encumbrances.

In the past, clients were ultimately liable for all advanced court costs and expenses of litigation. Rule 1.8(e) allows repayment to be contingent upon the outcome of the litigation. The contingent fee agreement must be in writing, and among other things, must state whether the client is responsible for reimbursement of expenses.18

22) May I split a fee with another lawyer who only refers the case?

Fee division among lawyers most commonly occurs when one lawyer refers a case to another lawyer. Other scenarios may include when a client’s original attorney withdraws and is replaced by a successor or a lawyer withdraws or retires from a firm. Regardless of the circumstances, lawyers from different firms who work on the same case may agree to split the legal fees earned on the case.19

A division of fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:
1) the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer, or each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation;
2) the client agrees to the arrangement and the agreement is confirmed in writing; and
3) the total fee is reasonable.
The attorneys are not required to disclose to the client the percentage share each attorney is to receive as between themselves, but must as compared to the client. The total fee must be reasonable.

Joint responsibility entails, at least, the obligations required of the lawyer in ORPC 5.1. This rule places the attorney is a “supervisory capacity” to be responsible to some degree for the other lawyer’s work and to make reasonable efforts to ensure the other lawyer conforms to the rules of professional conduct. Joint responsibility includes assumption of responsibility to the client “comparable to that of a partner in a law firm under similar circumstances, including financial responsibility [and] ethical responsibility to the extent a partner would have ethical responsibility for actions of other partners in a law firm in accordance with Rule 5.1.”20 Be careful in your referrals as your responsibility is more than you may have thought.

The best practice is to have fee division agreements in writing specifying the referring attorney’s role in the case and the terms of the split. There should be an agreement with the client and as between the two lawyers.

23) What if the presiding judge is a former partner with me or my opposing counsel?

How long should a judge be required to disclose previous professional relationships with attorneys appearing in the judge’s court? The Judicial Ethics Advisory Panel has been reticent to set a specific timeline for how long a judge should continue to disclose previous professional relationships. “We have previously stated that when a new judge assumes office, the judge should, for a reasonable period of time, disclose any immediate past association with an attorney appearing before the Judge.”21 The question before the panel involved a judge who was a sole practitioner for seven years immediately prior to becoming a judge and had been on the bench for two years. The panel stated that this was certainly more than sufficient time to no longer require disclosure of past relationships. Criteria to consider before requesting recusal based on prior professional relationships include:
  • the length of the judge’s association with the other attorney or firm;
  • the closeness of the association;
  • the amount of time since the association ended;
  • the size of the firm;
  • whether the court is located in a non-metropolitan area;
  • any financial dealings the judge has with the former partners;
  • the duration and closeness of personal relationships between the judge and former partners and associates;
  • whether the judge has a personal bias or prejudice toward the former partner or firm;
  • whether the judge is still receiving money from the firm or lawyer;
  • any continuing social relationship with the attorney.

24) My client doesn’t want me to pay his doctor’s bill. What should I do?

In Oklahoma, a lawyer may have a statutory duty to protect the claims of third parties against client funds or property in the lawyer’s possession. ORPC 1.15(d) and (e) provide:
(d) Upon receiving funds or other property in which a client or third person has an interest, a lawyer shall promptly notify the client or third person. Except as stated in this Rule or otherwise permitted by law or by agreement with the client, a lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or third person any funds or other property that the client or third person is entitled to receive and, upon request by the client or third person, shall promptly render a full accounting regarding such property.
(e) When in the course of a representation, a lawyer possesses funds or other property in which both the lawyer and another person claim interests, the funds or other property shall be kept separate by the lawyer until there is an accounting and severance of their interests. If a dispute arises concerning their respective interests, the portion in dispute shall be kept separate by the lawyer until the dispute is resolved, and the undisputed portion of the funds shall be promptly distributed.
The most prevalent example is when a medical provider files a lien for services rendered. If a medical lien comports with the applicable statutory requirements, an attorney must recognize the validity of the lien and safeguard the funds.22

If there is a legitimate dispute over the distribution of the funds or ownership of the property, the lawyer should not unilaterally assume to arbitrate a dispute between the client and a third party. Further, where there is a dispute over entitlement to the funds, the attorney cannot simply hold the funds indefinitely. The attorney should seek, if necessary, to institute appropriate proceedings to resolve the dispute.23

The lawyer may be required to protect the interests of a third party that do not have a valid lien. For example, if a client signs an agreement to pay a medical provider out of settlement proceeds, the attorney may be required to recognize the agreement and not follow client’s subsequent instructions to do otherwise.24

25) Why is it important to have and properly maintain an IOLTA trust account?

Participation in the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA) program is mandatory for OBA members that hold client or third-party funds in connection with a representation, unless it is not feasible for the lawyer or law firm to establish an interest-bearing trust account for reasons beyond their control. If the client funds are nominal in amount or to be held for a short period of time, they must be placed in an interest-bearing pooled trust account with the interest going to the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. The foundation’s tax I.D. number will be assigned to the IOLTA account.25

Nominal in Amount or Held for Short Period of Time

To determine whether the client funds are “nominal in amount” or “to be held for a short period of time,” the lawyer shall consider whether the funds could be invested to provide a positive net return or benefit to the client taking the following factors into consideration:
a) the amount of interest the funds would earn during the period the funds are expected to be deposited;
b) the cost of establishing and administering the account, including the cost of lawyer’s services and the cost of preparing any tax reports required for interest accruing to a client’s benefit; and,
c) the capability of the financial institution to calculate and pay interest to individual clients. ORCP 1.15 (h)(5)
Client funds that do not meet the nominal or short term definitions may be placed in a separate account that may earn interest for the client’s benefit. The client’s tax I.D. number should be used on such an account.

Trust account violations are among the most serious. Careful attention to the governing rule ORPC 1.15 must be paid, as there are other requirements than those discussed in this response. There is additional information and explanation provided on the OBA Web site. When in doubt, contact the office of Ethics Counsel or the Oklahoma Bar Foundation for assistance.

2009 – Amendment to ORPC:
ORPC 1.15 (g) has been amended to require changes pertaining to IOLTA accounts to be reported within thirty days of when the changes were actually made, not annually as formerly required. 1.15 (g) now reads, in part, as follows:

Effective January 1, 2009,… [e]ach member of the Bar shall provide the Oklahoma Bar Association with the name of the bank or banks in which the lawyer carries any trust account, the name under which the account is carried and the account number. The lawyer or law firm shall provide such information within thirty (30) days from the date that said account is opened, closed, changed, or modified. The Oklahoma Bar Association will provide on-line access and/or paper forms for members to comply with these reporting requirements. Provision will be made for a response by lawyers who do not maintain a trust account and the reason for not maintaining said account. Information received by the Association as a result of this inquiry shall remain confidential except as provided by the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings. Failure of any lawyer to respond giving the information requested by the Oklahoma Bar Association, Oklahoma Bar Foundation or the Office of the General Counsel of the Oklahoma Bar Association will be grounds for appropriate discipline.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, an important part of our jobs is to help you successfully navigate the Rules of Professional Conduct. We frequently write for this publication and write and speak for continuing education programs in an effort to provide as much assistance as possible. The phrase “a lawyer should avoid even the appearance of impropriety” is still good advice, but there are an increasing number of opinions and rules to know. We think most lawyers will do the right thing, if they know what the right thing is. We hope this and other articles from our offices help.

1. 5 O.S. Ch. 1. App. 1-A.
2. Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct (ORPC) 5 O.S. Ch. 1. App. 3-A, Rule 8.3(d).
3. ORPC 5.3.
4. ORPC 8.5 (a).
5. ORPC 8.5 (b)(1).
6. ORPC 8.5 (b)(2).
7. ORPC Scope [20].
8. ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Informal Op. 1384 (1977).
9. Britton and Gray PC v. Shelton, 2003 OK CIV APP 40, 69 P3d. 1210.
10. State ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Ass’n v. Cummings, 1993 OK 127, 863 P.2d 1164, 1170.
11. ORPC 1.16 (d).
12. See ABA Formal Ethics Op. 95-396 (1995).
13. See, e.g., State ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Ass’n v. Butner, 1998 OK 132, 976 P.2d 542 (Okla. 1998).
14. See, e.g., State ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Ass’n v. Harper, 2000 OK 6, 995 P.2d 1143 (Okla. 2000).
15. Hill v. Shell Oil Co., 209 F.Supp. 2d 876 (N.D. Ill. 2002).
16. See State ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Ass’n v. Smolen, 2000 OK 95, 17 P.3d 456.
17. Sellers v. Johnson, 1986 OK CIV APP 6, 719 P.2d 476, 479.
18. ORPC 1.5(c).
19. ORPC 1.5(e).
20. ABA Informal Ethics Op. 85-1514 (1985).
21. Judicial Ethics Opinion 2003-6, 2003 OK JUD ETH 6, 84 P.3d 808.
22. See Saint Francis Hospital v. Vaughn, 1998 OK CIV APP 167, 971 P.2d 401.
23. See State of Oklahoma ex rel. Oklahoma Bar Association v. Taylor, 2003 OK 56, 71 P.3d 18.
24. See ABA Informal Ethics Opinion 1295 (1974).
25. ORPC 1.15.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Gina Hendryx is the General Counsel for the Oklahoma Bar Association. A licensed attorney for the past 25 years, she received her J.D. and B.S. degrees from OCU. She supervises a staff of 12 and serves as the association’s counsel on other legal matters. She works with the Professional Responsibility Commission and serves as a liaison to the OBA Board of Governors, OBA committees, the courts, and other local and national entities concerning lawyer ethics issues.

Travis Pickens serves as OBA Ethics Counsel. He is responsible for addressing ethics questions from OBA members, working with the Legal Ethics Advisory Panel, monitoring diversion program participants, teaching classes and writing articles. A former litigator in private practice, he has served as co-chair of the Work/Life Balance Committee and as vice-chair of the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Assistance Program Committee.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- Dec.12, 2009 -- Vol.80, No. 33