LEO: Attorney - Relationship with Financial LE Op. 1003
Attorney - Relationship with Financial Advisor.
November 24, 1987
You state that a "financial advisor" who believes some of his clients
should consider bankruptcy is currently referring those clients to an
attorney for the filing of bankruptcy petitions. The "advisor" has
proposed that he obtain information from the clients concerning their
debts and assets, and also have a typist prepare the applicable forms. The
attorney would obtain the forms from the advisor, review the forms with
the client, again review the client's debt position, recommend a course of
action, file the forms and appear with the court proceedings. The advisor
would collect all fees from the client and forward them to the bankruptcy
attorney along with the other information the "advisor" received. You also
state that there would be no fee splitting although the attorney may
charge less than the normal fee for such clients, as much of the clerical
work would be done before the matter was turned over to the attorney. The "
financial advisor" would not in any way be affiliated with the attorney
and would be located some distance from his office.
You wish to know whether or not this arrangement is proper.
There is nothing within the Code of Professional Responsibility which
prohibits this arrangement.
The Committee, however, is concerned that the activity of the financial
advisor in filling out the "applicable forms" may constitute the
unauthorized practice of law. Disciplinary Rule 3-101(A) [ DR:3-101]
states that "a lawyer shall not aid a nonlawyer in the unauthorized
practice of law." Disciplinary Rule 3-104(A) [ DR:3-104] allows lawyers
to employ nonlawyers to perform delegated functions under the "direct
supervision" of a licensed attorney. Unless the forms are being filled out
by the nonlawyer personnel under the supervision of the lawyer, a Canon 3
problem could arise.
Committee Opinion November 24, 1987