OBA Ethics Counsel
Ethics Opinion No. 2
Adopted July 24, 1931
The Board of Governors of The State Bar of Oklahoma, having been requested so to do, hereby gives its opinion in the form of answers to the following inquiries:
"1. Under the law and rules of our present State Bar governing lawyers and the practice of law, is a person, not a member of the Bar, permitted to practice before a justice of the peace?
2. Is it lawful for a member of the Bar to, by power of attorney, delegate to another person, not a member of the Bar, authority to sign his name to pleadings, commence actions and prosecute the same in his name?
3. What situation does a member of the Bar occupy who furnishes the secretary of a collection agency the power of attorney, authorizing him or her to sign his or her name and commence actions?
In answer to the first inquiry, attention is called to Sections 46 and 48 of The State Bar Act which are as follows:
Section 46. Only Active Members May Practice Law. No person shall practice law in the State subsequent to the first meeting of The State Bar unless he shall be an active member thereof as hereinbefore defined.
Section 48. Unlawful Practice a Misdemeanor. Any person other than a non_ resident attorney, who, not being an active member of The State Bar or who after he has been disbarred or while suspended from membership in The State Bar, as by this Act provided, shall practice law, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
It is the opinion of the Board of Governors that one who is not a member of The State Bar of Oklahoma may not lawfully practice law in a court of justice of the peace, and that such a person who does practice before such court is guilty of a misdemeanor.
The second and third inquiries are considered as one. Reference is again made to Sections 46 and 48 of The State Bar Act. It is the opinion of the Board of Governors that a member of The State Bar who attempts to delegate to a person, not a member of The State Bar, authority to use his name as suggested in the second inquiry, aids and assists such person to practice law in violation of Sections 46 and 48 of The State Bar Act and is, therefore, particeps criminis in such violation. It is the opinion of the Board that such member of the Bar thereby subjects himself to disciplinary proceedings under The State Bar Act and the rules of professional conduct adopted thereunder.
It is the further opinion of the Board of Governors that a person, not a member of The State Bar of Oklahoma, who uses the name of a member of The State Bar as suggested in the inquiry, violates the provisions of Section 48 of The State Bar Act and is accordingly guilty of a misdemeanor.