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Opinions

All opinions of the Committee on Professional Ethics are available online here.  To locate a specific opinion or opinions, enter the opinion number or keyword in the appropriate search box below. Licensed attorneys may also call 877-953-5535 for access to opinions

The Committee on Professional Ethics issues opinions pursuant to Tex. Gov’t. Code §81.091- 81.095.  §81.091(a) states that “[t]he committee shall, either on its own initiative or when requested to do so by a member of the state bar, express its opinion on the propriety of professional conduct other than on a question pending before a court of this state.”   The nine members of the Committee are appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas.

  • Opinion 513

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 513
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 513, V. 59 Tex. B.J. 84 (1996)
    Date: June 1995

    Texas Disciplinary Rule 3.08 states that a lawyer shall not act as attorney in a case in which he or she knows or believes that the lawyer is or may be called as a witness, unless the testimony falls within one of the exceptions set out in the rule. Although this rule does not precisely address the service of attorneys as expert witnesses, the rule is applicable here as described in Warrilow v. Norrell , 791 S.W.2d 515 (Tex.App.--Corpus Christi 1989, writ denied). In this case, the appeals court found that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing one of the party's attorneys to testify as an expert witness. The court stated that a different expert witness could have and should have been used. Rule 5.03 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules makes such rules applicable to non-lawyers who are employed by, retained by or associated with a lawyer. Such lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the non-lawyer is in compliance with these rules. Therefore, under Rule 5.03, if an attorney may not testify as an expert witness, neither may an employee of that attorney serve as a testifying expert witness. Furthermore, as a testifying expert witness, the accountant's working papers, reports and any material reviewed by the accountant would be subject to discovery. The use of the law firm's in-house Certified Public Accountant could lead to a waiver of attorney-client privilege once he is designated a testifying expert. According to Texas Disciplinary Rule 1.05, no exceptions exist in this situation for the lawyer to waive that privilege. As discussed above, if the lawyer cannot waive the attorney-client privilege, neither can an employee of that lawyer. Therefore the naming of the employee as an expert witness could constitute a violation of Rule 1.05 because of the waiver of the attorney-client privilege.

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  • Opinion 512

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 512
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 512, V. 58 Tex. B.J. 1147 (1995)
    Date: June 1995

    May the in-house lawyer of a corporation represent a joint venture in which the corporation is a venturer, without violating Texas Disciplinary Rule 1.06, Conflict of Interest, and/or Texas Disciplinary Rule 5.05, Unauthorized Practice of Law?

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  • Opinion 511

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 511
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 511, V. 58 Tex. B.J. 1146 (1995)
    Date: January 1995

    May a law firm represent two children in a civil action concerning an auto accident in which the children's mother was killed and the children's father was involved and is a possible defendant if: (1) the law firm represents the father with respect to the mother's estate and had previously represented the father with respect to criminal charges arising from the auto accident, and (2) the father, but not the children's guardian, has waived any conflict of interest with respect to the law firm's representation of the children? The wife sued her husband for divorce, seeking custody of their two children. The husband was represented in the divorce by the M & M Law Firm. While the divorce was pending, the wife was killed in an auto accident. The husband was driving his wife's car and she was his passenger when they ran into a truck. The husband alleges that the truck driver violated the law. The husband survived the accident, was found to be intoxicated, and was charged with DWI and manslaughter. The M & M Law Firm represents the husband against the criminal charges and he is no billed by the grand jury as to the manslaughter charge. M & M files pleadings for the husband in the probate court to make the husband administrator of his wife's estate. The wife's mother files pleadings in probate court contesting the husband's right to be administrator, citing conflict of interest. The wife's mother, individually and as next friend of the wife's two children, files a lawsuit in district court against the trucking company and against the husband. An answer is filed for the husband by another law firm hired by the husband's insurance company. The probate court appoints a neutral third party to be guardian of the estates of the two children. The guardian seeks court permission to sign a contingent fee contract with the BBB Law Firm to represent the two children with the intention to sue the trucking company and the husband. The M & M Law Firm files its own motion to represent the children, citing an earlier contract signed by their father. M & M withdraws as the husband's attorney regarding any civil claim arising from the auto accident. M & M continues to represent the husband regarding the estate and the guardianship of the persons of the children. The husband announces that he waives any conflict of interest regarding his children's claims and his representation by M & M. If M & M represents the two children, it will have to sue the husband, its current client, or decide not to sue the husband and proceed only against the trucking company. M & M contends that the husband's intoxication was not a cause of the wreck and points out that the husband has minimal insurance coverage and the trucking company has more than adequate insurance coverage. The neutral guardian appointed to manage the estates of the children believes the husband should be named as a defendant. M & M states it will sue the husband if necessary.

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  • Opinion 510

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 510
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 510, V. 58 Tex. B.J. 1058 (1995)
    Date: December 1994

    May a Texas attorney provide legal services to a client under a contingent-fee arrangement in a litigation matter when the client also enters into a contingent-fee arrangement with a non-attorney investigator to perform investigation services in connection with the matter?

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  • Opinion 509

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 509
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 509, V. 58 Tex. B.J. 864 (1995)
    Date: October 1994

    Three attorneys decide to share office space and decide to put on the door graphics of their suite: SMITH, JONES AND WASHINGTON Law Offices of Independent Practitioners No other materials, such as letterhead, business cards, brochures or the like bear this statement or graphic. Contracts of Representation expressly denounce any association between the three attorneys, other than office sharing arrangements. 1.   Is such a violation of State Bar Rule 7.04(a)? 2.   Is such a violation of State Bar Rule 7.04(d)?

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  • Opinion 508

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 508
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 508, V. 58 Tex. B.J. 863 (1995)
    Date: October 1994

    May a law firm lease its employees, including lawyers who are members of the firm, from an employee leasing company that also provides services to and leases employees, including lawyers, to other law firms?

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  • Opinion 507

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 507
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 507, V. 58 Tex. B.J. 863 (1995)
    Date: October 1994

    Is it a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct if an attorney causes to be published in a newspaper of general circulation an advertisement targeted for potential clients who have a specific legal problem.        Is it a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct if an attorney sends an unsolicited letter to a lay person not a prospective client but who is in a unique position to refer targeted clients to the attorney in exchange for business referrals from the attorney.

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  • Opinion 506

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 506
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 506, V. 58 Tex. B.J. 720 (1995)
    Date: September 1994

    Does an attorney violate Rule 1.05, Confidentiality of Information, of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct by providing the documentary evidence requested by the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission regarding legal services performed on behalf of his clients?

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  • Opinion 505

    Canon: [PEC No. 93 6]
    Opinion #: 505
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 505, V. 58 Tex. B.J. 719 (1995)
    Date: August 1994

    1.   Would a violation of Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct occur if a law firm agreed, as part of the settlement of a lawsuit, not to solicit third parties in the future to prosecute claims against the opposing party? 2.   Would a violation of Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct occur if a law firm agreed, as part of the settlement of a lawsuit, not to share fees with anyone in the future with respect to lawsuits or claims brought against the opposing party?

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  • Opinion 504

    Canon: [PEC Matter No. 93 5]
    Opinion #: 504
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 504, V. 58 Tex. B.J. 718 (1995)
    Date: August 1994

    Does a lawyer's duty of candor to a tribunal under Texas Disciplinary Rule 3.03 require defense counsel in a criminal case to correct mistaken or inaccurate statements made in court by a prosecutor about prior convictions of the defendant, if neither the defense lawyer nor the defendant makes any false statements to the court about such matters?

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Displaying results 171-180 (of 683)
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