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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 145

Adopted April 12, 1950

QUERY

Is it proper for a practicing attorney in a particular county to engage in the abstract business in that county and to occupy the same quarters as occupied by the abstract company?

ANSWER

There is no rule of the Oklahoma Bar Association covering this question, nor is there any principle of professional ethics which confines a lawyer to the practice of the law to the exclusion of other business. The abstract business, however, is so interrelated with the practice of law, that it would be most difficult for one ethically to engage in both. As previously stated in Opinion No. 76, page 140, Volume 1, Advisory Opinions of the State Bar of Oklahoma, we believe:

"Though a lawyer is not prohibited by any accepted standard from engaging in a lay business while practicing law, he must conduct such lay business with due observance of the standards of conduct required of him as a lawyer; and that in conducting such a lay business, he must not use it as a means of obtaining law business, nor must he use the fact that he is a member of the bar as a means to obtain lay business. In this connection the Board restates what it has repeated occasion to state, 'a member of the bar should not only avoid all impropriety, but should likewise avoid the appearance of impropriety'."

Therefore, while the Committee cannot say that engaging in the abstract business under the circumstances set forth above, is in violation of any rule or principle of professional ethics, it is a practice of which the Committee does not approve. Particularly is this true where the attorney proposes to have his office in the same quarters utilized by the abstract company.