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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 188

Adopted July 8, 1957

The Central Committee of the Oklahoma Bar Association has submitted to its Legal Ethics Committee the following inquiry:

INQUIRY

Where Attorney A is attorney of record for a guardian, executor, or administrator, is it proper or ethical for Attorney B. who represents an oil lease purchaser on property in such guardianship or estate, to file petition and proceedings to effect such sale, or should such sale be handled by and through the attorney of record for such guardianship or estate?

OPINION

This questions appears to involve not so much legal ethics as statutory procedure. It can be reasonably urged, under 58 Okl. St. Ann. ss 412, 808 and 825, the petition for sale properly should be filed by the attorney of record for the guardian or estate. Of course, Attorney A and Attorney B both have a strong interest in seeing that the proceeding is handled effectively and correctly. Accordingly, there may be good reason for the two attorneys to work cooperatively in the matter. While the proceeding apparently should be filed formally by Attorney A, there is no reason why Attorney B may not draft the documents, etc., at least on a preliminary basis.

Naturally, in all relations with each other and in their relations with their own and with each other's clients, both Attorneys A and B should adhere to the applicable canons of the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association. The provisions of the last paragraph of Canon 7 should be strictly adhered to. It reads as follows:

"Efforts, direct or indirect, in any way to encroach upon the professional employment of another lawyer, are unworthy of those who should be brethren at the Bar; but, nevertheless, it is the right of any lawyer, without fear or favor, to give proper advice to those seeking relief against unfaithful or neglectful counsel, generally after communication with the lawyer of whom the complaint is made."

ADDENDUM

The Central Committee approves Advisory Opinion No. 188 as written by the Legal Ethics Committee, Joseph G. Rucks, Chairman. The Central Committee believes it correct to add some emphasis to the effect that Attorney B should not assume to put through proceedings for the sale of an oil lease by the Guardian, without the approval of Attorney A, unless it has been definitely determined that Attorney A no longer represents the Guardian. In that event, since B represents the purchaser, he should make this fact clear to the Guardian and suggest to the Guardian that if he no longer relies on Attorney A he may wish to employ other counsel to pass upon the proceedings as the Guardian's attorney. Attorney B representing the purchaser should make it clear to the Guardian that he is not in a position to represent the Guardian.