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.

For proposed opinions open for comment, visit the State Bar of Texas website.

  • Opinion 69

    Canon: 6
    Opinion #: 69
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 226 (1966)
    Date: March 1953

    An attorney was appointed by the Court to act as Attorney Ad Litum for certain nonresident defendants who had been cited by publication in a Trespass to Try Title. Plaintiff was claiming title by limitation, all papers which could be checked appeared regular on their face, and upon a hearing judgment was entered for plaintiff and the attorney was awarded a nominal fee. Following the entry of such judgment, several of such nonresident defendants learned of the suit, contacted the attorney who had acted as Attorney Ad Litem, and furnished him with evidence which would be a defense to said claim of limitation title. Based upon the foregoing state of facts, would it be a violation of any of the Canons of Ethics for such attorney to accept employment from said nonresident defendants, and to take such action as may be necessary to have the case reviewed and the judgment set aside?  

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  • Opinion 68

    Canon: 6, 24, 39, 42.
    Opinion #: 68
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 225 (1966)
    Date: March 1953

    Is it a violation of the Canons of Ethics for an attorney who handles tax matters to insert a card, giving his name, address, telephone number, and adding the words "Tax Service" therein, in the professional directory of a newspaper? Before stating the opinion of the present committee on the above question, it is deemed advisable to briefly review the history of this matter. In two prior opinions No. 7 released in 1947 and No. 29 released in 1950, the Texas Committee on the Interpretation of the Canons of Ethics had ruled that a card in a newspaper "Legal Directory" was permissible. This position was contrary to the American Bar ruling, and was also opposed to the views of local bars in certain cities. Because of this conflict the matter was referred to the State Bar, as a whole, in July 1951, and the following resolution was adopted: "I move, Mr. President, that the State Bar follow the lead of the American Bar in its revised Canons of Ethics, which would forbid publication of the professional card."  

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  • Opinion 67

    Canon: 30. A.B.A. Canon 33.
    Opinion #: 67
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 225 (1966)
    Date: March 1953

    Is it a violation of the Canons of Ethics to use a firm name indicating a partnership such as "Smith and Jones," when a true partnership does not exist but each lawyer has his own clients?  

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  • Opinion 66

    Canon: 6
    Opinion #: 66
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 225 (1966)
    Date: March 1953

    Is it a violation of the Canons of Ethics for an attorney representing the estate of a decedent to file a claim on behalf of a third party against the said estate and request an attorney's fee from said estate for the collection of said claim?  

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  • Opinion 65

    Canon: 6, 34
    Opinion #: 65
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 224 (1966)
    Date: March 1953

    Is it a violation of law or any Canon of Ethics for a Texas lawyer who is a member of a law firm to represent a public utilities company before a city governing body, i.e., city council, while a member of the same law firm serves the same city governing body in a legal advisory capacity, i.e., city attorney?  

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  • Opinion 64

    Canon: 24, 39
    Opinion #: 64
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 223 (1966)
    Date: February 1953

    The following questions were submitted to this committee by a special committee appointed by the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas to investigate and make recommendations to the Board of Directors for the purpose of working out some plan or policy for future listings in law directories and similar publications. The questions have received careful and detailed consideration at the hands of this committee, and the predecessor committee. This committee also acknowledges the very helpful cooperation of Mr. Edward J. Nofer, Vice-President and General Manager of Martindale-Hubbell, Inc., in arriving at a proper solution of the matter.

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  • Opinion 63

    Canon: 31
    Opinion #: 63
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 223 (1966)
    Date: February 1953

    A firm of Texas lawyers represents a client who holds property belonging to a person who disappeared several years ago. A Chicago concern advertises that it specializes in searching for missing heirs, legatees, owners of property, etc. They further state that such searches are made at their own cost, without expense to forwarders, and that their compensation is fixed by a contingent fee agreement with the person located. They further state in their advertisement "We cooperate with attorneys on an ethical basis." The Texas law firm desires to know if it would be proper, under the Texas Canons of Ethics, to forward this business to the Chicago firm, and to share in their contingent fee in the event the person is located.  

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  • Opinion 62

    Canon: 24, 39, 42.
    Opinion #: 62
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 223 (1966)
    Date: February 1953

    Is it a violation of the Canons of Ethics for an attorney who carries a listing under "Attorneys" in the yellow pages of the local telephone directory, to also carry a listing under "Title Service" which after giving his name, reads: "Title Insurance Guarantees Land Titles and Liens Exclusive Agent (Name of Company) 'Better Be Safe Than Sorry' (Telephone Number)"  

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  • Opinion 61

    Canon: 31
    Opinion #: 61
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 222 (1966)
    Date: January 1953

    The party in question is both an attorney and a certified public accountant. Prior to the receipt of his license as an attorney in 1942, he was employed as an assistant county auditor. From 1942 to 1949 he was employed as an executive with a manufacturing concern. In May, 1949, he resigned that position, and opened his own law office. The Commissioners Court of one of the large counties in Texas, for a number of years, has been issuing and refunding bonds for various purposes. In connection with such issues, it is necessary to have a transcript of all the proceedings prepared and filed with the Attorney General for his approval, as well as with the market attorneys. The Commissioners Court under the law, was permitted to employ the county auditor or any other qualified person to prepare such transcripts, and had made a practice of employing the county auditor to do so and he was authorized to employ such assistants as he deemed necessary. The work of preparing these transcripts was not part of the official duties of the county auditor, was performed outside of regular office hours, and he was paid extra compensation for such work. During the period from 1936 to 1942, while the attorney in question was assistant county auditor, he had assisted the county auditor in the preparation of such transcripts, and divided the compensation for such work with the county auditor. This practice continued during the period from 1942 to 1949, while the attorney in question was an executive of the manufacturing concern. None of this work was performed while the attorney was holding himself out as being engaged in the practice of law, and was discontinued when he opened his law office in 1949. In 1950, the attorney in question applied for a license to the Committee on Practice to appear as an attorney before the Treasury Department and other federal agencies, and that committee has requested a ruling from the Committee on Interpretation of Canons of Ethics as to whether or not this division of fees between the county auditor, a layman, and the attorney in question constituted a violation of the Canons of Ethics. This matter was submitted to our predecessor committee in a seven-page single-spaced letter. That committee called upon the person submitting the question for further data particularly as to the nature of the services which had been performed, and a second letter of some five and one-half pages, single spaced, was submitted.

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  • Opinion 60

    Canon: 24, 39
    Opinion #: 60
    Cite: 18 Baylor L. Rev. 222 (1966)
    Date: January 1953

    Is it a violation of the Canons of Ethics for an attorney to publish a card in a local newspaper giving his name, address, and telephone number, and reciting that he has been in that locality for 25 years?  

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