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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 19

Adopted February 26, 1932

A member of the State Bar has forwarded to the Board of Governors a copy of a publication, evidently periodically published by a real estate corporation doing business in this state, and disseminated to its customers. The copy at hand contains news items about various deals made. Among other things, it purports to give legal advice about "How can property be vacated for non-payment of rent," "How to vacate property where rent is paid," and "A tenant should give proper notice."

The forwarder of the copy of the publication inquires as to the propriety of the procedure.

Opinions upon the general subject have been rendered by the Board of Governors in Opinion No. 1, (April 1931 issue. Oklahoma State Bar Journal, page 6), in Opinion No. 11 (December 1931 issue, page 8), and in Opinion No. 20, rendered at the regular February monthly meeting, which appeared in the March issue of the State Bar Journal.

In Opinion No. 11, after referring to Sections 46 and 48 of the State Bar Act, it was said:

"the 'practice of law' within the meaning of such sections, is any service involving legal knowledge whether of representation, counsel or advocacy, in or out of court, rendered in respect of the rights, duties, obligations, liabilities or business relations of the one requesting, or to whom the service is rendered.

"The above definition of the term 'practice of law' is substantially that adopted by the American Bar Association. We consider it to be correct."

In connection with the word "person" as used in Section 48, it is to be observed that Section 2326, C.O.S.1921, 21 Okl. St. Ann. § 105, provides that the word "person" includes incorporations as well as natural persons.

In the opinion of the Board the lay agency in question by the publication referred to is engaged in the practice of law in that it seeks to render service to its customers and others involving legal knowledge in respect to their rights, duties, obligations, liabilities or business in violation of Section 48 of the State Bar Act.