LEO: Creditor Demand Letters LE Op. 1121
Creditor Demand Letters.
September 1, 1988
You have presented three questions regarding the ethical implications of
an attorney who accepts employment for the sole purpose of writing a
creditor's demand letter. The Committee will address each question in the
order in which they are presented.
I. Is it improper for an attorney to accept employment when the client
has not referred the account for any purpose other than a demand letter?
The Committee believes that such employment is not improper. However, an
attorney contemplating such employment should make a complete
investigation of the matter so as to enable him to make a good faith,
professional judgment that the demand is for a valid existing claim before
drafting or mailing a demand letter on his firm's letterhead or over his
signature. ( DR:7-102(A)(1) and (2).)
A lawyer shall not knowingly advance an unwarranted claim (except as set
forth in DR:7-102(A)(2)), write or communicate information that is false,
illegal or fraudulent. (See DR:7-102(A)(2), (5) and (7)) Furthermore, a
lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or
misrepresentation which would reflect adversely on a lawyer's fitness to
practice law. ( DR:1-102(A)(4))
II. Does the use of letterhead to make a demand for payment by an
attorney imply that litigation is threatened and could result? The
Committee believes that the creditor receiving such correspondence from an
attorney could not reasonably infer that litigation could result if the
attorney has made no implications or statements to that effect.
III. Is it ethical for an attorney to threaten litigation, whether by
implication or otherwise, when he knows that the client has forwarded the
account for the sole purpose of a demand letter? The Committee believes
that it would be improper for an attorney to engage in such conduct that
would result in knowingly making a false statement of fact in violation of
DR:7-102(A)(5) and DR:1-102(A)(4). (See also LE Op. 732)
Committee Opinion September 1, 1988
See also LE Op. 1195, and LE Op. 1291.