Opinion 400

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Committee on Professional Ethics

Opinion #400 – 06/27/1975 (46-75)

Overruled by N.Y. State 608 (1990)
Topic: Attorney’s fees
Digest: Improper to use collection agency to collect attorney’s fees
Code:  EC 2-23

QUESTION

May a law firm turn its delinquent accounts over to a collection agency to recover attorneys’ fees from former clients?

OPINION

Bearing in mind that the legal profession is a learned profession and not a mere money-getting trade, an attorney should avoid suing a client for a fee so far as shall be compatible with his self-respect and with his right to receive reasonable recompense for his services. Lawsuits against clients for legal fees should be resorted to only to prevent Injustice, imposition or fraud. EC 2-23; ABA 250 (1943).EC 2-23 provides in part:”A lawyer should be zealous in his efforts to avoid controversies over fees with clients and should attempt to resolve amicably any differences on the subject…’The use of a collection agency as a method to recover attorneys’ fees is inconsistent with the dignity and honor of the legal professional and is improper.

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