Ethics Opinion 179

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinions

Opinion #179 – 03/01/1970 (7-71)

Topic: Delegation of Professional Functions
Digest: Professional functions cannot be delegated to a client
Code: EC 3-6

QUESTION

May a lawyer permit a client to use the lawyer’s letterhead and affix the lawyer’s name in sending out a standard series of collection letters prepared by an attorney.

OPINION

A lawyer may not delegate any professional functions or powers to his client (ABA 85 (1932); N.Y. County 102 (1916); N.Y. County 300 (1932)).Counsel may not allow a collection department of a corporation to use his letterhead (ABA 68 (1932); N.Y. City 458 (1938); nor may a lawyer permit. a collection agency to sign the attorney’s name in making collections (N.Y. City 89 (1928)).However, as long as the lawyer retains full professional responsibility and his relationship with the client, he may delegate routine functions to lay persons (EC 3-6). It would not be improper to permit a stenographer in the office of the client to type the collection letters in the form prepared by the attorney and to forward them to the attorney, who would read, sign and mail the letters to the debtors in the event the letter met with the attorney’s approval. N.Y. County 300 (1932).

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