Ethics Opinion No. 4
Adopted August 29, 1931
A member of the State Bar requests the opinion of the Board of Governors upon a proposed course of conduct as follows:
A lawyer has established a collection service known as ………… Collection Service, of which it appears he is manager and attorney. He proposes to forward to different organizations a letter as follows:
_________ COLLECTION SERVICE
______, Manager ________, Attorney
General Collecting and Credit Reporting
To Secretary of the Retail Merchants Ass’n.,
I have opened the ………… Collection Service with offices in the city of ………. for the purpose of doing a general collecting and reporting service in ………, ……… and ………… counties.
I have had ten years experience in the practice of law and the collection business, and will give each account forwarded to ………… Collection Service by personal attention and each account forwarded to me will have immediate attention. I will appreciate any business your office cares to forward to ………… Collection Service.
Should appreciate it if you would send me the name and address of a responsible collection agency at ………….
Yours very truly,
…….. Collection Service,
By …….. Manager.
The direct inquiry is “please advise me if I would be violating any principle of the ethics of the Bar Act if I sent this letter and others out.”
It is the opinion of the Board of Governors that such a course of conduct would be in violation of Rules 29 and 37 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in that such course of conduct would constitute the solicitation of business by circular or advertisement not warranted by professional relations, (Rule 29); and in that “the professional services of a lawyer should not be controlled or exploited by any agency, person or corporation which intervenes between client and lawyer.” (Rule 37). Lawyers should not aid or participate in any way in the practice of law by laymen or lay agencies, nor should they in any way sanction the same or profit therefrom.