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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 170

Adopted February 26, 1932

Many inquiries have been received by the State Bar from persons who were non-residents of the State of Oklahoma on the effective date of the State Bar Act, to-wit, June 22nd, 1929, and who have continued since to be non-residents, whose names on that date appeared upon the roll of the Supreme Court as members of the Bar of the State of Oklahoma, as to their status under the Act, and as to their obligations, duties and responsibilities thereunder.

In response to the inquiries:

Section 3 of The State Bar Act provides:

"The members of the State Bar shall be all persons now entitled to practice law in this State."

It is the opinion of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Oklahoma that the appearance of a name of a person on the roll of the Supreme Court on June 22nd, 1929, was prima facie evidence that that person was entitled to practice law in this State on that date, and continues prima facie evidence of the right of such person to practice law in this State until he has been suspended therefrom or until his enrollment has been revoked or set aside.

That being so, each person whose name appeared upon the Supreme Court roll on June 22nd, 1929 became on that date a member of The State Bar and as such became and is now obligated to pay the fees required by the Act, in lieu of which he "must be suspended from membership in the State Bar."

The Board is of the opinion, however, that it has the discretion to permit such persons enrolled upon the Supreme Court roll-on June 22nd, 1929, who were not residents of the State of Oklahoma on that date and who have since continued to be such non-residents, and who have not complied with the provisions of the State Bar Act to petition the Supreme Court, through the Board of Governors, to strike their names from the roll of the Supreme Court, such persons thereafter not to be subject to the provisions of the State Bar Act. Adopted June 10, 1953

QUERY

A civic organization "organized for the purpose of civic improvement and betterment and to create a more cohesive unit for the merchants and businesses embraced" is preparing a booklet giving the names, addresses and business or profession, including a roster of members.

A sample of the Directory is as follows:

"BUSINESS DIRECTORY

Adams, John

Pres. International Bank 640 So. Main 22222

Alabama Hardware 32222

Hardy Knox 1605 E. 13th Complete Line of Houseware & Lawn Equipment

John Doe

Attorney Nat'l Bk. Bldg. 4th & Boston 26666"

"HOME DIRECTORY

Adams, John 67777

2753 E. 49

John Doe

5515 So. Main 76666"

John Doe, an attorney is president and will prepare and sign a foreword or introductory message. The written inquiry does not contain the statement, but the attorney, in two telephone conversations with the chairman of the undersigned committee, stated that the members wanted him, in said foreword, to urge members to patronize their fellow members.

1. Is the roster listing the attorney as such proper; and

2. Is it proper for an attorney to prepare and sign the foreword?

ANSWER

There is no violation of Canon 27 in the listing as above set forth.

A foreword stating the purposes of the organization, can be prepared and signed by an attorney president of a civic organization, so long as said foreword does not urge the members to patronize one another.

It would be improper and a violation of Canon 27 for an attorney to prepare and sign a statement urging members to patronize one another. In fact it would be a violation of said Canon for an attorney to permit his name to appear on the roster of any organization which had for one of its stated purposes the urging of members to patronize one another. Such would be at least indirect advertisement for professional employment.

In Opinion 20 dated February 26, 1932, Vol. 1, page 40 of Opinions of Board of Governors of State Bar of Oklahoma it was said in part:

"2. That if the trust company is not engaged in the practice in connection with the drafting and execution of wills or in giving advice in connection therewith, the member of the State Bar referred to is guilty of a violation of Rule 29 (Canon 27) of the Rules of Professional Conduct of The State Bar of Oklahoma in that he has solicited business or knowingly permitted the solicitation of business for him by others, not warranted by personal relations, and is thereby guilty of a failure to uphold the honor and to maintain the dignity of the profession as required by Rule 31 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, by reason of which he is subject to disciplinary measures."