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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 214

Adopted December 14, 1961

Since the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) has moved its office to Oklahoma City, a nation-wide demand for certificates of search has arisen. In connection with these searches, several questions of ethical conduct of members of the Bar have been submitted.

INQUIRY

(1) The FAA maintains a list of "qualified examiners" which includes both lay companies and local attorneys. Is it proper for a member of the Bar to permit his name to be included on such list?

(2) A lay company distributes a form for its customers to use in requesting "Examiner's Certificates." On this form in quotations appear the words "Bonded-Lawyers." Is it proper for such a phrase to so appear?

OPINION

The answer to both questions is "No." The so-called list of "qualified examiners" is distributed by the FAA upon inquiry with the result that a member of the Bar whose name appears thereon is in effect soliciting business in direct violation of Canon 27. Any member of the Bar is as fully qualified to make a search of those records as those whose names appear on the list and it is incumbent upon those whose names do appear, whether they solicited such listing or not, to see that they are removed.

As to the second inquiry, the use of the term "Bonded-Lawyers" is such a flagrant violation of Canon 33 and Canon 47 that it hardly requires comment. If the lay agency actually employs lawyers, these lawyers are in violation of the canon by permitting their office to be exploited. If the "lay agency" is actually a cloak for lawyers to avoid the ethical prohibitions, it is equally reprehensible. If in fact no lawyers are involved, it is a fraud. In any event the Association should take steps to see that the practice is discontinued.