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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 88

Adopted May 24, 1935

The Board is in receipt of the following inquiry:

"When I left the bench and re-entered the law practice, I did not form a partnership with my former partners, but have an office adjoining and it was arranged that my name should appear as associate counsel to my former partners. However, with the understanding that I may be called into their counsel at anytime. I fully appreciate that in any case in which I was called in conference, I would be disqualified from taking employment from any party with an adverse interest. It was not intended that this relation should bar them from taking opposite sides of cases in which I was interested in the other side, nor bar me from taking employment in cases which were handled by them and in which I was not called in on as counsel. I have, of course, regular clients and they also have regular clients. Would it be unethical under the relations suggested above for me to take a case in which they are interested as counsel under the condition stated above, or would it be unethical for me to be employed in a case against their clients under the conditions stated above?"

Rule 31 of the Rules of Professional Conduct enjoins upon a member of the bar the duty "at all times to uphold the honor and to maintain the dignity of the profession." This involves the correlative duty, not only of refraining from evil, but also of avoiding the appearance of evil--the duty to refrain from creating a situation. regardless of express prohibition, which might bring reproach upon the profession. That the course of conduct outlined would tend to bring reproach upon the profession is obvious.