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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 493

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 493
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 493, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 622 (1994)
    Date: February 1994

    Do the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct permit a Texas attorney to establish a Texas Registered Limited Liability Partnership ("LLP") with persons who are not licensed attorneys but who are licensed professionals in their fields under which the attorney and the other licensed professionals would share contiguous office space and share expenses, overhead and revenue from common clients?

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  • Opinion 492

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 492
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 492, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 621 (1994)
    Date: June 1992

    A "labor organization" as defined by Vernon's Ann.Civ.Stat. art. 5154c, section 5, has on its staff non-attorney advocates who represent municipal employees in presentation of grievances and assist employees in nonjudicial resolution of workplace problems. This labor organization also employs an attorney whose duties and obligations are not substantially different from the nonattorneys in being responsible for assisting in the nonjudicial resolution of workplace issues. No representatives of the union claim a right to strike and all, including the attorney, are licensed "labor organizers" as required by art. 5154a. The type of work includes: Arranging meetings between supervisors and employees to informally work out problems; Contacting Personnel Managers and staff at the Human Resources Department to initiate, inquire about, or expedite application for City benefits such as Return to Work programs, Sick Leave Transfer benefits, Wage Continuation Benefits, Reclassification and Transfer requests or other programs which the City operates for the benefit of employees; Discussing with upper management and City Council members proposed policy initiatives and procedures for their implementation; Lobbying City Council members; Representing employees at informal disciplinary hearings before his or her supervisor and upward through the process on appeal to a Department head and possibly to a Grievance Panel; Investigating facts and collecting statements from employees, both rank and file as well as supervisory, in preparation for effective representation. The Charter for the Municipality reads: "The city attorney shall be the legal advisor of, and attorney for, all of the officers and departments of the city, and he or she shall represent the city in all litigation and legal proceedings." The city attorney has informed the labor organization's attorney that he may not communicate with, nor cause another to communicate with, any city employee who has "managerial responsibility which relates to the subject of the representation." This prohibition is based upon the city attorney's reading of Rule 4.02 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. In further reliance upon Rule 4.02, the city attorney has enjoined the labor organization's attorney from communicating, directly or indirectly, "with any city employee whose act or omission make the city liable for such act or omission" without the consent of the city attorney. Do the prohibitions of Rule 4.02 apply to an attorney who represents a union member in resolving grievances or other concerns arising out of municipal employment, or who negotiates on policy matters, where there is neither litigation in progress nor contemplated?

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  • Opinion 491

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 491
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 491, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 564 (1994)
    Date: November 1993

    Is it proper for partners in a law firm founded by them after withdrawing from another law firm to use the name of a deceased partner in the former firm as part of the name of the new firm? A, B and other lawyers form a partnership for the practice of law in the State of Texas under the name "A & B" and practice under that name for a number of years. From time to time, additional partners are admitted to the firm. B withdraws from the practice of law but consents to the further use of his name by the partnership. A dies while a partner in the firm. Several of the partners who had practiced under the supervision of and in the same section with A subsequently withdraw from "A & B," form a new partnership for the practice of law, and wish to use the name "A & X" as the name of their new partnership. A's heirs have granted their consent to the use of A's name in the new partnership. Are lawyers who have withdrawn as partners in a law firm and have organized a new law firm prohibited from using in the name of their new firm the name of a deceased partner in the firm from which they withdrew?

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  • Opinion 490

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 490
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 490, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 563 (1994)
    Date: October 1993

    Do the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct permit an arrangement under which a bank charges a fee to loan applicants for the preparation of mortgage loan documents by an in-house lawyer who is paid a salary by the bank but does not receive any part of the fees paid by loan applicants?

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  • Opinion 489

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 489
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 489, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 372 (1994)
    Date: December 1992

    May a law firm develop, sponsor and conduct a seminar for the benefit of a specific segment of the lay public?

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  • Opinion 488

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 488
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 488, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 371 (1994)
    Date: December 1992

    Is it proper for an attorney to advise his client (a debtor) to contact the client's creditor to obtain a written statement of the client's account if the client does not inform the creditor that the client is represented by counsel and that the statement of account will be reviewed by the client's attorney? Would a different answer be required if the creditor had an in-house attorney? An attorney is contacted by a purchaser of consumer goods under a retail installment contract regarding a potential breach of warranty and fraud claim associated with the purchase and potential improper or questionable late fees charged by a finance company which purchased the contract and the finance company's failure to timely credit payments on the contract. An attorney-client relationship is formed and the attorney advises the client (the purchaser of consumer goods) of several options that might be available to the client and that the client should request a statement of his account from the finance company to determine the client's current account balance and to allow the client to make an informed decision as to which option to pursue. The client then contacts an employee of the finance company and requests a written statement of his account but does not tell the finance company's employee that he has consulted or is represented by an attorney. The employee later prepares and sends the client a written statement of his account, which is delivered by the client to his attorney. No litigation was pending between the parties when the client requested the statement of his account. 1.   If the creditor is not represented by an attorney, is this a prohibited communication by an attorney with an unrepresented person without disclosing his role as an attorney? 2.   If the creditor has an in-house attorney, is this a prohibited communication with a represented party without the consent of that party's attorney?

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  • Opinion 487

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 487
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 487, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 304 (1994)
    Date: December 1992

    Is it proper for a law firm to represent an employer and employee, both of whom are named as defendants in a suit, deliver to the employer and employee confidential information adversely affecting the employee that leads to a conflict of interest between the employer and employee, and continue representing the employer but not the employee in the suit, pursuant to a written agreement executed by the employer and employee?

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  • Opinion 486

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 486
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 486, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 304 (1994)
    Date: March 1994

    Two lawyers have decided to practice law together. Both lawyers are licensed by the Texas Supreme Court and are in good standing. In considering the different forms of organization which the lawyers may choose, they have found certain advantages in the formation of a Texas limited liability company for the practice of law. Do the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct permit lawyers to form a Texas limited liability company for the practice of law under Article. 1528n, Tex. Civ. Stat.?

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  • Opinion 485

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 485
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 485, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 304 (1994)
    Date: March 1994

    A Texas attorney contemplates entering into an employment contract regarding child support arrearage lawsuits with the client based on a (contingency fee) percentage of the amount of arrearage recovered for the client. 1.   Is accepting these cases on a contingency fee in violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.04? 2.   Does the use of Power of Attorney from the client and the depositing of full arrearage into the attorney's escrow account prior to disbursement violate any Rule of Professional Conduct?

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  • Opinion 484

    Canon:
    Opinion #: 484
    Cite: Tex. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Op. 484, V. 57 Tex. B.J. 202 (1994)
    Date: February 1994

    A retail credit card company has referred debtors = account files and/or information regarding each debtor, to an attorney for a collection letter. A duplicate of each file and/or the information has been retained by either an outside collection agency or by the retail credit card company's in-house collection department but each has been instructed not to actively work on the files unless (a) the debtor contacts in response to the attorney's letter; or (b) over 45 days expires from the date of the attorney's letter to the individual debtor. The attorney's letter does not appear to violate the state or federal "Fair Debt Collection Act" but does advise the debtor that the attorney has recommended to his client to "pursue any and all legal proceedings available to it in order to collect this debt" as well as to seek to recover "reasonable attorney's fees and court costs." This letter will be the attorney's only contact with debtor's accounts. 1.   Since the attorney is not truly collecting the account, is use of the attorney's letterhead a potential for the unauthorized practice of law? 2.   Does the attorney's letterhead appear "deceptive" since some debtors may believe the attorney is actually handling the account? 3.   If the attorney is an in-house attorney for the creditor, will such a relationship satisfy the State Bar rules?

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Displaying results 191-200 (of 683)
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