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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 52

Adopted April 21, 1933

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

"I am in receipt of the following letter from a collection agency residing out of the State, and I wish to have an advisory opinion whether it would be ethical for me to do so as they request, bearing in mind that I will receive some business through it.

The letter is as follows:

'Dear Sir:

We have a number of large manufacturers, wholesalers, etc. We have a considerable amount of accounts, secured and unsecured, all through the State of Oklahoma, and quite a bit in and around Tulsa. We would be in a much better position to obtain that business if we had an office in Tulsa. We, therefore, would like to use your address as our Tulsa address, and of course, if and when we would receive any claims in your territory, we would send them to you for your attention. If agreeable with you, please have your building directory show the name of our company at your room number so that you can receive any mail that would be directed to our Tulsa office, and in the event a client's traveling representative would care to call upon you about any Oklahoma matter while in Tulsa; if agreeable with you, please advise us accordingly. This may mean quite a bit of business for you in time.

Very sincerely yours.'

Under this arrangement, I would not be soliciting any business through this collection agency and neither would I have the name of the agency on my door. As I understand this letter, my office will be used as an address for the collection agency. Of course, I understand that I will undoubtedly derive some benefit from this arrangement, however, I do not care to consider it unless it will meet with the approval of the Advisory Committee.

Thanking you to render me your opinion at your very earliest convenience, I am

Yours very truly."

In response, obviously the collection agency desires its clients to believe that it has a branch office in Tulsa, thereby causing them to believe that their business may be more efficiently handled by that agency than by some other. The implied representation thereof is not true for the reason that in fact no branch office is maintained. While the attorney is not himself mistreating any one, yet he is aiding the collection agency in an effort to sail under false pretenses, and in the judgment of this Board, it is improper for him to do so.

See Rule 17 of the Rules of Professional Conduct which requires that a member of the Bar should refrain from any manner of fraud or chicane.