Ethics Opinion 142

By Committee on Professional Ethics

Ethics Opinion 142

Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #142 – 07/02/1970 (17-70)
Topic:  Business interests of lawyers Title Abstract Co.

Digest: Proper for lawyers to operate title abstract corporation for service to lawyers
Code:  DR 2-102 (E)


My a law firm form and operate a title abstract corporation for service to attorneys, the letterhead bearing the name and address of the corporation the names of the officers of the corporation, without however identifying them as attorneys, but with the same address as that of the law firm?


In ABA Inf. 726 (1963), that committee stated:”Since the preparation of an abstract may properly be done either by lawyers or by laymen, we can see nothing wrong with the formation of a corporation for the purpose’ of purchasing an abstract company and preparing abstracts of title. The fact that this corporation is owned in part by lawyers creates no problems… What must be observed however are the provisions of [former] Canon 27 which makes it unprofessional to solicit professional employment though direct or indirect advertisements. Such a company must not be designed in such a way so as to directly or indirectly advertise the lawyers who are its stockholders.In New York State 60 (1967) we stated the following conditions to govern an attorney engaged in another business: That he does not use his name in the name of the other business, that he not conduct the other business from the same office as his legal practice, that he not use the business as a device for soliciting legal employment.It is the committee’s opinion that if the attorneys and the abstract company carefully observe the admonitions in the above opinions and in DR 2-102(E), the proposed operation of a title abstract corporation is not improper. It is the committee’s further opinion that so long as the service is limited to attorneys, a separate office is not necessary, but if the abstract company should advertise or solicit business from the public, then ethical considerations would require the maintenance of such operation in a separate office.If the services of the corporation are used for the attorneys’ own clients, there should be a full disclosure of the attorneys’ relation to the corporation.

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