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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 43

Adopted November 25, 1932

The Board is in receipt of the following request for an opinion:

"A firm of lawyers of a foreign state, all the members of which are residents of that state and non-residents of this state, have established an office in one of the larger cities of this state. On the door to the main entrance to the office appears the following:

LAW OFFICES

....Name of Firm....

.... (Individual names of

.... members of firm)

....

On the letter heads used by the firm appears "Law Offices .........., .........., ..........." The blanks represent the name of the firm and the foreign location thereof. On the letter heads used by the firm in this state usually appears the typewritten location of the office in this state.

One member of the firm spends considerable of his time in the office in this state, where he consults with the firm's clients. The firm from time to time files many suits in the courts of this state and prosecutes them to conclusion. In addition I am informed, the member of the firm in question attends to the clients' business in other ways, such as drawing contracts, releases, etc.

I desire to obtain the opinion of the Board as to whether or not the course of conduct of the firm in question is proper."

In response:

It is the opinion of the Board that the firm of lawyers referred to are engaged in the practice of law in this state in violation of Sections 46 and 48 of the State Bar Act. In so doing the members of the firm are also subject to contempt proceedings and may be enjoined from continuing its practice in this state.

The rule of comity does not permit foreign lawyers engaging in the general practice in this state. As stated in Rule Thirteen of the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar, a foreign attorney may be admitted to participate in or conduct the trial or argument of any "particular case" in which he may "for the time be employed," provided his comity privilege "as herein defined" shall not at said time have been withdrawn by order of the Board of Governors.

It would seem, therefore, that for the abuse of the privilege of comity, a proceeding before the Board of Governors might lie.