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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 264

Adopted May 22, 1971

INQUIRY

The Legal Ethics Committee has been asked for a clarification of its Opinion No. 260, insofar as it relates to Legal Interns who have been duly admitted to practice law in limited form by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

OPINION

Legal Ethics Opinion No. 260, adopted March 19, 1971, (42 OBAJ 747) was intended to proscribe the activities therein described by persons not authorized to practice law.

The opinion inadvisedly included the words "law interns and clerks" in generally referring to lay employees.

The Committee did not intend the words "law interns" to refer to Legal Interns holding a limited license to practice granted by the Supreme Court, but rather to refer to law students or apprentices employed by lawyers but who are not authorized in any manner to practice law. The Supreme Court's Revised Rules Governing Legal Internship (as amended January, 1970) set forth the limitations on and permitted scope of authorized practice by persons holding a limited license from the Court. Some of the activities referred to in Opinion No. 260 as being improper when performed by a layman are expressly permitted of a Legal Intern, e. g., appearing in Court in waiver or default divorces and ex parte matters such as temporary orders in divorce cases.

To the extent that the Supreme Court has authorized, or authorizes, such licensed Legal Interns to perform such acts, the performance of such acts in conformity with the Court's rules clearly do not constitute the "unauthorized" practice of law and, therefore, are not unethical.