NYSBA Ethics Opinion 61

By Committee on Professional Ethics

Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #61 – 05/23/1967 (15-67)
Topic: Solicitation of Employment
Digest: Lawyer may solicit employment as house counsel or as employee but not where relationship is to be attorney-client, unless personal relations warrant
Canon: Former Canon 27


An attorney knows that an unincorporated association is seeking a general counsel.  The attorney knows several of the officers of the association on a personal basis.  May the attorney express to these officers his desire to be considered for the position of general counsel?


Canon 27 of the Canons of Professional Ethics provides in part:”It is unprofessional to solicit professional employment by circulars, advertisements, through touters or by personal communications, or interviews not warranted by personal relations…”If the position of general counsel is that of an employee of the association, there is no impropriety in soliciting such employment, irrespective of personal relationship.On the other hand, if the relationship is to be that of attorney-client, the propriety of seeking the position will depend upon the nature of the relationship between the attorney and the officers of the association. This relationship must be a “personal, close and intimate association”.   The closer the relationship, the more justification there may be for suggesting the attorney’s availability.Propriety in such cases is largely a matter of degree, good taste and good judgment under all the surrounding circumstances.  (See N.Y.City Op. 467; A.B.A. Op. 106.)

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