Memorandum Ethics Opinions

State Bar of Wisconsin

Sign In

Top Link Bar

    RACIAL EQUITY: It’s Time to Step Up. We Need Your Help. Click Here.​

Memorandum Ethics Opinions

Browse or sort the files below by clicking on any heading (e.g. Name, Title, File Size), or Search for Opinions.

Description
EM-2-76-A revised FINALWisconsin Memorandum Ethics Opinion 2/76 A - Conflict of Interest: District Attorney is sibling of Defense Counsel
May a defense lawyer or members of his firm represent criminal clients in a county where the lawyer’s sibling is the elected or appointed district attorney?
504 KB EM-2-76-A revised FINAL.pdf
EM-19-02 Thrust upon conflicts in syndicated financing transactionsWisconsin Memorandum Ethics Opinion EM-19-02: Thrust upon conflicts in syndicated financing transactions
This opinion addresses three scenarios that arise in the context of a syndicated loan, a fluid situation that presents unique and demanding conflict of interest issues. The examples discussed present situations that relatively few lawyers regularly encounter, and as such, the State Bar’s Standing Committee on Professional Ethics (the “Committee”) believes that some discussion of terminology is appropriate.
606 KB EM-19-02 Thrust upon conflicts in syndicated financing transactions.pdf
EM-18-01 Local Rule Requiring WithdrawalWisconsin Memorandum Ethics Opinion EM-18-01: Local rule requiring Withdrawal
What are the ethical obligations of a defense lawyer when a local court rule requires the lawyer to file a motion to withdraw at the pretrial hearing if the lawyer has not been in communication with the client?
345 KB EM-18-01 Local Rule Requiring Withdrawal.pdf
EM-17-03 Fee Sharing - FinalWisconsin Memorandum Ethics Opinion EM-17-03: Division of Fee Between Different Firms
If I am representing the worker’s compensation insurer, and I refer an unrepresented injured worker to a personal injury attorney in a Wis. Stat. §102.29 third-party liability case, can that attorney and I agree to the following:
• The attorneys’ fees and costs to be deducted from the third-party recovery will be a contingent attorney fee of one-third of the gross recovery, plus actual litigation expenses.
• The one-third contingent attorney fee will be divided 50/50 between the two attorneys. This 50/50 split would be a reasonable estimate of the amount of time both attorneys will spend on the file.
420 KB EM-17-03 Fee Sharing - Final.pdf
EM-16-01 Crime Prevention Funding BoardsWisconsin Ethics Memorandum Opinion EM-16-01: Crime Prevention Funding Boards
The creation of Crime Prevention Funding Boards (CPFB) is authorized by Wis. Stat. §59.54(28).1 Under this law, a County Board of Supervisors may approve a resolution to create a CPFB. Once a CPFB is created, a $20.00 surcharge is added to all felony and misdemeanor convictions in that county. The county treasurer collects the money, and the CPFB then distributes the funds in grant form to entities that have as their primary purpose preventing crime, providing a funding source for crime prevention programs, encouraging the public to report crime, or assisting law enforcement agencies in the apprehension of criminal offenders.
285 KB EM-16-01 Crime Prevention Funding Boards.pdf
EM-14-01 Retirement benefitWisconsin Memorandum Ethics Opinion EM-14-01: Retirement Benefits and Restrictions on the Right to Practice
Do payments based upon a multiple of average earnings and months of full-time employment, for which the lawyer becomes eligible at age 55 and retirement (also available upon death or disability), payable over nine years, constitute retirement benefits for purposes of SCR 20:5.6, so that these payments may be conditioned upon the receiving lawyer refraining from engaging in the private practice of law in competition with the firm?
18 KB EM-14-01 Retirement benefit.pdf
M-10-02Wisconsin Memorandum Ethics Opinion M-10-02: Lawyer as Witness
If a lawyer representing a plaintiff speaks with a defense witness and in the course of the conversation, the defense witness reveals information about possible illegal conduct by the defendant with respect to the witness and other information which greatly undermines the defense, may the lawyer continue to represent the plaintiff in the matter?  Assume, for purposes of the question, that there were no other persons privy to this conversation.
13 KB M-10-02.pdf
M-4-78 CMemorandum Opinion 4/78 C: Permissible activities of a law clerk
A lawyer not yet admitted to the State Bar is properly designated as a law clerk and as such is not permitted to conduct activities constituting the practice of law, which are reserved for attorneys admitted to practice.
5 KB M-4-78 C.pdf
M-3-78 BMemorandum Opinion 3/78 B: Advertising in baseball scorebook
It would not be improper for a law firm sponsor of a local baseball team to have its name listed with other sponsors in a baseball scorecard booklet.
4 KB M-3-78 B.pdf
M-3-78 AMemorandum Opinion 3/78 A: Sale of law practice
It is improper to offer a law practice for sale. A lawyer's clients are not merchandise, nor is a law practice properly the subject of sale. A lawyer may properly sell the physical assets of her/his practice, and those accounts receivable which represent work completely finished. As for accounts representing work in progress, the client must be informed s/he is free to select any attorney to finish the work begun by attorney whose law practice has ended.
5 KB M-3-78 A.pdf
M-2-78Memorandum Opinion 2/78: Office sharing
Attorneys who "share" office space, secretarial help and other facilities should keep several ethical considerations in mind. They should not hold themselves out as in partnership with those with whom they are not in fact partners. Consequently, office signs, letterheads, professional cards and the like should not create the impression of a partnership. The use of "associates" is also not proper in office-sharing situations. The arrangement of offices should be such as to belie the impression of a partnership.
5 KB M-2-78.pdf
M-1-78 BMemorandum Opinion 1/78 B: Paralegals
Use of paralegals is ethical and to be encouraged because it offers the opportunity to provide legal services to more people at potentially lower costs. There are ethical problems involved, however, particularly in the area of avoiding the unauthorized practice of law.
6 KB M-1-78 B.pdf
M-1-78 AMemorandum Opinion 1/78 A: Conflict of interest: Attorney joins other firm
When an attorney moves from a firm representing one side of a claim to a firm representing the other side, whether either firm must withdraw depends upon the extent of the moving attorney’s involvement.
5 KB M-1-78 A.pdf
M-9-77 CMemorandum Opinion 9/77 C: Representation of criminal defendants when partner's spouse is prosecutor
It is not per se unethical for members of a firm to represent criminal defendants when the prosecutor is the spouse of one of the firm's partners. Extreme care should be taken, however, to avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety.
5 KB M-9-77 C.pdf
M-9-77 AMemorandum Opinion 9/77 A: Advertising in high school annual
It would not be improper for an attorney to purchase an advertisement in the local high school annual.
4 KB M-9-77 A.pdf
M-8-77 DMemorandum Opinion 8/77 D: Withdrawal from representation upon nonpayment of fees: Substituting attorney's obligation
An attorney who withholds legal services because the client refuses to pay all or part of the fees owed is engaging in unethical conduct especially if the client is prejudiced by such inaction.
5 KB M-8-77 D.pdf
M-8-77 CMemorandum Opinion 8/77 C: Attorney-board of education member conflict of interest
Where an attorney is a member of the board of education it would be proper for her/his partner to represent the school district only if all parties are fully informed of the relationship between the attorneys and consent after being informed. Even with consent, there may be circumstances in which one or both of the partners will have to withdraw from involvement where a conflict or the appearance of impropriety exists.
5 KB M-8-77 C.pdf
M-8-77 BMemorandum Opinion 8/77 B: Conflict of interest: School district
The same reasoning as above (see opinion 8/77A) would apply to whether a firm could ethically have one partner performing legal service for a joint city-township school district and another partner representing a school teacher in a grievance matter against the district.
5 KB M-8-77 B.pdf
M-8-77 AMemorandum Opinion 8/77 A: Conflict of interest: Insurance company
A law firm hired on a case-by-case basis to defend an automobile liability insurance carrier is not per se precluded from representing a plaintiff against that insurance company. There are, however, serious problems inherent in the situation.
5 KB M-8-77 A.pdf
M-6-77 CMemorandum Opinion 6/77 C: Organization beneficiary in will drafted by attorney/officer
It is not improper for an attorney to draft a will for a member of the State Bar in which there is sizeable bequest to a society of which the drafting attorney is an officer.
5 KB M-6-77 C.pdf
M-6-77 BMemorandum Opinion 6/77 B: Fee agreement with substituted counsel
Where a client had a contingent fee contract with an attorney and breached the contract by discharging the attorney and substituting other counsel, the original attorney is entitled to the benefit of his/her contract less the value of the services necessary to complete performance of the contract.
4 KB M-6-77 B.pdf
M-6-77 AMemorandum Opinion 6/77 A: Attorney's name and profession printed as reference
It would be improper under DR 2-101(B) for an attorney to allow his/her name, profession, and address to be printed on a brochure to be distributed to a life insurance agent's customers and potential customers, as a reference for the agent.
4 KB M-6-77 A.pdf
M-4-77 BMemorandum Opinion 4/77 B: Disclosure of trust account records
It would be improper for an attorney to make disclosures concerning the funds in his/her clients' trust accounts to anyone other than the individual clients without their permission. Consequently, an attorney who is a party in a divorce action should not respond to a subpoena requiring that s/he produce trust account records.
4 KB M-4-77 B.pdf
M-4-77 AMemorandum Opinion 4/77 A: Law and other offices in shared building
It may be ethically proper for an attorney to share a building and a receptionist with other businesses. The basic inquiry should be whether the arrangement is such that it is clear to the public the law offices and other businesses are entirely separate and independent entities. Thus, they should not occupy the same physical space, should have separate telephones, and there should be an office directory with appropriate lines or space between listings to indicate that the entities are not connected.
5 KB M-4-77 A.pdf
M-3-77Memorandum Opinion 3/77: Advertising in Bar Bulletin
An attorney may announce to other attorneys his/her availability to assist them in specified areas of law, but may not do so in such a way as to underscore any expertise in a particular field of law.
6 KB M-3-77.pdf
M-2-77 DMemorandum Opinion 2/77 D: Newspaper publication of article by attorney identifying him/her as such
An attorney may properly allow publication of newspaper or periodical articles on the new tax law (or other changes in the law) written by him/her, including a by-line or note identifying the author as a local attorney. It would be desirable to include a caution that the article is intended to be general and not advisory, and that questions about application to a reader's specific situation should be referred to the reader's legal or tax advisor.
5 KB M-2-77 D.pdf
M-2-77 CMemorandum Opinion 2/77 C: Interviewing opposing party's expert witness
It is not ethically improper for an attorney to contact an opposing party's expert witness or the officers of the company employing the expert witness without the permission of the opposing counsel.
4 KB M-2-77 C.pdf
M-2-77 AMemorandum Opinion 2/77 A: Competitive bidding
There is nothing in the Code of Professional Responsibility which prohibits an attorney from responding, along with other selected attorneys, to an invitation to state what s/he would charge for rendering services for a government agency, so long as the factors listed in DR 2-106(B) are taken into account. It would be desirable for the attorney to indicate the number of hours of service contemplated by his/her bid, and the amount that would be charged hourly for additional time.
5 KB M-2-77 A.pdf
M-12-77Memorandum Opinion 12/77: Advertising in church bulletins
It is not improper for an attorney to place an advertisement in a church bulletin.
4 KB M-12-77.pdf
M-11-77Memorandum Opinion 11/77: Attorney-client privilege: Disclosure of information
An attorney who is aware that an object of his/her client's was found at the scene of alleged criminal misconduct is not under an ethical obligation to disclose the existence of the object or where it was found to the authorities.
5 KB M-11-77.pdf
M-9-76Memorandum Opinion 9/76: Solicitation
An advertisement in a newspaper offering to refer to responding attorneys the names of the companies seeking advice on tax and cost savings may subject an attorney who responds to disciplinary action as a violation of DR 2-101(C).
6 KB M-9-76.pdf
M-8-76 BMemorandum Opinion 8/76 B: Attorney-client privilege: Whereabouts of client who is fugitive from justice
Information an attorney has as to the whereabouts of a client who is a fugitive from justice comes within the attorney-client privilege, if the client has come to the attorney for advice regarding his rights as a fugitive or to negotiate a surrender. If, however, the client has come to the attorney for advice on how to remain a fugitive, information the attorney may gain as to the client's whereabouts is not privileged and must be revealed to inquiring authorities.
5 KB M-8-76 B.pdf
M-8-76 AMemorandum Opinion 8/76 A: Inclusion of attorney's name and biographical information in non-law list publication
It would not be improper for an attorney to furnish requested biographical data for publication in a "Who's Who" type reference book so long as the purpose is not the forwarding of business for the attorney.
4 KB M-8-76 A.pdf
M-7-76Memorandum Opinion 7/76: Television appearance by attorney
An attorney may properly appear on a television program to alert the public to the importance of recognizing legal problems and seeking legal assistance.
5 KB M-7-76.pdf
M-5-76Memorandum Opinion 5/76: General counsel
It is proper for a corporation to designate an attorney as its general counsel on its corporation letterhead if the attorney is an "in-house" lawyer or is an outside attorney engaged full-time by the corporation to render legal services for it. If the attorney is not employed full-time by the corporation, s/he may be designated as general counsel only on specialized executive type stationery used only for corporate legal matters and used only by the attorney so designated. Such an attorney could also use a letterhead with no reference to the corporate client so long as it is not used in a misleading manner.
5 KB M-5-76.pdf
M-3-76Memorandum Opinion 3/76: Appearance of improper conflict alleviated by full disclosure
It would not be improper for an attorney whose office is adjacent to the office of an attorney-police and fire commission member, but with whom there is no partner, to represent a complainant in a matter which may come before the commission. Full disclosure to any relationship between the attorney and the commission member would remove any appearance of impropriety.
4 KB M-3-76.pdf
M-2-76 BMemorandum Opinion 2/76 B: Letterhead
Members of a legal staff employed on a full-time basis by a corporation may not ethically use a letterhead which is designed in such a manner as to imply a law partner exists when in fact there is none and the attorneys have full-time responsibility to the corporation.
4 KB M-2-76 B.pdf
M-2-76 AMemorandum Opinion 2/76 A: Conflict of interest: District attorney
It is not inherently unethical for an attorney whose brother is the district attorney to represent clients in actions defended or prosecuted by the brother. However, individual situations should be carefully considered to avoid even the appearance of impropriety and if a conflict arises, the lawyer must withdraw.
4 KB M-2-76 A.pdf
M-1-76Memorandum Opinion 1/76: Broker's commission: Estate representative - State Bar of Wisconsin Ethics Committee
Where an attorney represents the personal representative of an estate s/he is entitled only to legal fees, including compensation for work as an attorney in connection with the sale of property of the estate; s/he cannot accept a real estate broker's commission for such sale.
4 KB M-1-76.pdf
M-12-76Memorandum Opinion 12/76 A: Associate of judge's relative appearing before the judge
A judge must disqualify him/herself when a relative appears as counsel.
5 KB M-12-76.pdf
M-12-76 BMemorandum Opinion 12/76 B: Partner of court commissioner appearing before the court commissioner
There is no opinion addressing the question whether it is ethically proper for an attorney who is the partner of a court commissioner to appear before that commissioner in a supplementary examination.
5 KB M-12-76 B.pdf
M-11-76 CMemorandum Opinion 11/76 C: Conflict of interest: New member of firm represented adverse party
It would be improper for a firm to represent a party in an action against another party represented by a firm with which a new member of the first firm had previously been employed.
4 KB M-11-76 C.pdf
M-10-76Memorandum Opinion 10/76: Law firm named in will as legal counsel for the estate
It is not per se unethical as solicitation for a law firm to draft a will in which it is named as legal counsel or executor for the estate if that is the unprompted desire to the client.
6 KB M-10-76.pdf
M-9-75 CMemorandum Opinion 9/75 C: Firm name following purchase of branch office
A firm purchasing the physical assets of a law office in another town and operating it as a branch office may use its own name in connection with that practice. However, it may not use the name of a retiring lawyer in the community with its own as a partnership when there would be no partnership.
4 KB M-9-75 C.pdf
M-9-75 BMemorandum Opinion 9/75 B: Attorney/bank director conflict of interest
Where one member of a law firm is a director of a bank and one of his/her partners represents another local bank, the representation may be terminated at the insistence of the directors of either bank.
4 KB M-9-75 B.pdf
M-8-75 CMemorandum Opinion 8/75 C: Letterhead listing of partner not admitted to State Bar
A law firm member who is licensed to practice law in another state but not in Wisconsin may be listed on the firm's letterhead if a note immediately follows his/her name indicating that (s)he cannot practice law in this state.
4 KB M-8-75 C.pdf
M-8-75 BMemorandum Opinion 8/75 B: Municipal attorney conflict
There is no inherent conflict of interest in a lawyer's representation of both a municipality and an area sanitary district.
4 KB M-8-75 B.pdf
M-6-75 EMemorandum Opinion 6/75 E: Announcement of availability for referrals on a commission basis - State Bar of Wisconsin Ethics Committee
An attorney may announce his/her availability to assist other lawyers on referral matters, but not on a commission basis. The division of fees between lawyers who are not in a partnership or other association together except on the basis of work accomplished or the responsibility assumed is improper.
4 KB M-6-75 E.pdf
M-6-75 DMemorandum Opinion 6/75 D: Attorney/collection agency fee sharing
In response to an inquiry whether an attorney may properly be compensated for legal work done for a collection agency by a percentage of the agency's fee for successful debt collection, the committee referred to the following considerations.
6 KB M-6-75 D.pdf
M-6-75 CMemorandum Opinion 6/75 C: Solicitation of clients for retirement plan salesman
It would be improper as disclosure of client confidence, indirect solicitation, and a violation of a lawyer's obligation to exercise independent professional judgment on behalf of a client, for an attorney to participate in the following scheme.
5 KB M-6-75 C.pdf
M-6-75 BMemorandum Opinion 6/75 B: Attorney signing client's name on check for deposit in trust account
It is improper for an attorney to sign a client's name on the reverse of a check representing proceeds of a judgment and payable to both the attorney and the client. A written power of attorney is necessary to authorize an attorney to sign his/her client's name; such authorization does not arise merely from the attorney-client relationship.
5 KB M-6-75 B.pdf
M-6-75 AMemorandum Opinion 6/75 A: Representation of a client when the attorney's partner may be called as a witness
Where an attorney's partner who has handled a client's business and personal matters may be called as a witness in a criminal trial in which the client is a defendant, and where it is likely the matter to which (s)he will testify will be uncontested, it is not improper for the attorney to represent the client at the trial. The client should be informed that if a conflict of testimony does arise, the attorney may have to withdraw from representation.
5 KB M-6-75 A.pdf
M-3-75Memorandum Opinion 3/75: Family court commissioner conflict of interest
An attorney who shares office space and operating expenses with and generally holds him/herself out as in partner with a part-time assistant family court commissioner, even though there is no actual partnership, should not accept clients in divorce matters.
5 KB M-3-75.pdf
M-1-75Memorandum Opinion 1/75: Interstate law firms
An inquiry was made whether the State Bar of Wisconsin had adopted ABA Formal Opinion 316 relating to interstate law firms.
5 KB M-1-75.pdf
M-11-75 BMemorandum Opinion 11/75 B: Attorney/shareholder representing corporation in bankruptcy proceeding
Attorney holding stock in a corporation may represent the corporation in a voluntary bankruptcy proceeding only if (s)he does not make a claim on behalf of him/herself or the other stockholders.
4 KB M-11-75 B.pdf
M-11-75 AMemorandum Opinion 11/75 A: Judicial candidate testimonials
It is improper for an attorney to conduct or contribute to a cocktail party for a judicial candidate.
4 KB M-11-75 A.pdf
M-10-75 BMemorandum Opinion 10/75 B: Professional calling cards
A professional calling card including only the lawyer's name, the firm name, address and telephone number, without the designation "attorney at law" would not constitute a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
4 KB M-10-75 B.pdf
M-10-75 AMemorandum Opinion 10/75 A: Disputed attorney's fees
If there is a dispute between an attorney and a client as to the value of services, the attorney should try to resolve it. If only part of the billing is in dispute then the attorney may deduct the undisputed part of the fee from funds held on behalf of the client and must hold the balance of the disputed funds in his/her trust account so that (s)he does not have immediate access to them, and return the balance of the fund to the client.
5 KB M-10-75 A.pdf
M-2-74Memorandum Opinion 2/74: Part-time corporation counsel in private representation
The Ethics Committee reaffirmed its July 1968 opinion in which it had stated that a part-time county corporation counsel might appear in the defense of persons charged with criminal acts if the county by an ordinance enactment absolves him from the possible prosecution duties which are inferred in sec. 59.07(44), Stats., and thus sufficiently insulate the corporation counsel from a conflict of interest situation.
5 KB M-2-74.pdf
M-3-73Memorandum Opinion 3/73: Conflict for former D.A. to represent private claimant
Where a former part-time district attorney has successfully prosecuted an accused for the wrongful killing of a state patrolman, it would be improper for him later to represent the widow in a civil wrongful death claim against the accused.
5 KB M-3-73.pdf
M-1-73Memorandum Opinion 1/73: Lawyer appearing on TV or radio "talk shows" proper
In reply to an inquiry as to the propriety of attorney appearing individually or as a local bar representative on radio or TV "talk" or "call-in" shows to respond to inquiries from the public, there appears to be nothing inherently improper.
5 KB M-1-73.pdf
M-12-73Memorandum Opinion 12/73: Legislator using law office address on letterhead
The designation of his "law office address" on the formal letterhead of a state legislator who is also a member of the bar may be a violation of DR 2-102(E). The preferred practice would be to use the caption "office address."
5 KB M-12-73.pdf
M-11-73Memorandum Opinion 11/73: Use of designation "general counsel" limited
An attorney may not permit his name to be listed on the letterhead of a corporate client as "general counsel" unless he or his firm devotes all of its professional time to that client, or unless a special corporate stationery with his name is developed for his use only, DR 2-102(A)(4).
5 KB M-11-73.pdf
M-7-72Memorandum Opinion 7/72: Corporate legal staff must not use partnership letterhead
It would be improper for a group of attorneys who were employed full-time in the legal department of a corporation to establish a letterhead holding themselves out as a partnership, with the letterhead making no reference to such corporation. Such holding out would be deceptive and misleading to the public and to other attorneys under the circumstances.
5 KB M-7-72.pdf
M-2-72Memorandum Opinion 2/72 A: Gifts of value to judge improper
In response to an inquiry from a group of former Supreme Court law clerks, the committee concluded that it would be improper for them to present a gift to a justice at a private dinner they planned to hold in his honor, inasmuch as DR 7-110(A) precludes lawyers from giving any gift of value to a judge.
5 KB M-2-72.pdf
M-2-72 CMemorandum Opinion 2/72 C: Management consultation advertising by lawyer improper
A lawyer who sought to act in the capacity as a "management consultant" in addition to his engaging in private law practice was informed that he would be bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility as to advertising and solicitation, and considering the overlap in the two that he cannot advertise his legal background in conjunction with the management activities, nor could he solicit legal work through that work. Ideally, a lawyer engaged in such occupations or professions should keep the two activities in separate locations.
5 KB M-2-72 C.pdf
M-2-72 BMemorandum Opinion 2/72 B: Conflict upon representing student when employed by college
An attorney who was employed part-time as a member of a research project for a state university for a three-year period, who later sought to represent a university student who sought relief from an adverse ruling of the board of regents, which ruling was made while the lawyer was employed on the project, cannot properly accept such private representation under DR 5-107(D) unless the university or college authorities and the client both consent to such representation.
5 KB M-2-72 B.pdf
M-7-71Memorandum Opinion 7/71: Accepting fees from criminal indigent improper
The committee confirmed its 1965 informal opinion in which it had held that it is ethically improper for an attorney to accept funds from an indigent criminal defendant or his family for defense of the case after accepting funds from the state or county for such representation, without disclosing the entire matter to the court and to the governmental unit involved, on the basis that the attorney would be working a potential fraud or deception on the court which authorized the disbursement of public funds to the attorney for the defense of such defendant.
5 KB M-7-71.pdf
M-6-71Memorandum Opinion 6/71: Lawyer sharing office with C.P.A.
In response to an inquiry concerning the sharing of office space by an attorney and a certified public accountant, the committee responded with the same language as in its reply of April 5, 1971, regarding a lawyer sharing space with a real estate broker.
5 KB M-6-71.pdf
M-4-71 BMemorandum Opinion 4/71 B: Lawyer sharing office with real estate broker
Although it is not inherently improper for an attorney to share office space with a real estate broker, such arrangement must be made in accordance with the ethical rules and the operation scrutinized to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Also, the public must be aware when they are in the offices, just what facility they are visiting - lawyer or broker, and that the two offices are separate entities.
6 KB M-4-71 B.pdf
M-4-71 AMemorandum Opinion 4/71 A: Disposing of clients' files upon closing office
In response to two inquiries concerning the disposal of clients' files upon the dissolution of a law partnership or the closing of a sole practitioner's office upon his retirement or death, there is an obligation for the attorneys or the personal representative of the estate in such instance to go through the active files and promptly notify the client of the conclusion of the partnership or law practice and indicate that the files will be available at a given location for them to reclaim, or request guidance from them as to the forwarding of the file to a new attorney.
5 KB M-4-71 A.pdf
M-1-71-CMemorandum Opinion 1/71 C: Potential conflict in representing criminal defendants
The Ethics Committee is of the opinion that it is not inherently improper for an attorney for a local policemen's protective association to represent defendants in criminal prosecutions at the same time.
5 KB M-1-71-C.pdf
M-1-71 BMemorandum Opinion 1/71 B: Lawyer-candidates may use letterhead ee
A lawyer candidate for district attorney may send letters on his professional stationery to prospective voters, and in his message can state his profession and give his legal background.
5 KB M-1-71 B.pdf
M-11-71Memorandum Opinion 11/71: Lawyer in probate limited to legal fees
Where a lawyer is the attorney of record for the personal representative of an estate which is responsible for the sale of real estate therein, the lawyer must accept legal fees for such sale and not attempt to charge a real estate broker's commission.
5 KB M-11-71.pdf
M-6-70 HMemorandum Opinion 6/70 H: Threatening criminal action improper
A lawyer in civil debt case must not threaten criminal action in behalf of his client against the debtor, under DR 7-105(A) even though such potential criminal action may exist.
4 KB M-6-70 H.pdf
M-6-70 GMemorandum Opinion 6/70 G: Legal services center conflict
Attorneys on the staff of a legal services center activity should avoid appearing on opposite sides of a divorce action in the same manner as attorneys in private practice must avoid a conflict of interest. In addition, attorneys must avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Although a legal aid case presents a unique situation, lawyers on the staff should obey the Code of Professional Responsibility in all instances.
5 KB M-6-70 G.pdf
M-6-70 FMemorandum Opinion 6/70 F: Letterhead improper
A group of attorneys for a casualty insurance claims department may not use a joint letterhead which makes it appear that a partnership exists, when the attorneys are full-time employees of the company. Such use of a letterhead would be misleading to the public.
4 KB M-6-70 F.pdf
M-6-70 EMemorandum Opinion 6/70 E: Conflict in representing host driver and guest passenger
An attorney who has represented the interests of a host driver in a traffic citation case arising from a vehicle accident may not also represent a guest passenger in the same automobile in the claim for personal injuries.
5 KB M-6-70 E.pdf
M-6-70 DMemorandum Opinion 6/70 D: Branch office requirements
A lawyer may establish limited office hours in a branch office in a bank in a town nearby his main office. Such conduct is proper if the lawyer is not trying to use the bank as a business feeder, and he should use a separate room or facility in the bank building if possible. If the lawyer is an officer of the bank, he must maintain his law office in quarters separate from the bank proper.
4 KB M-6-70 D.pdf
M-6-70 CMemorandum Opinion 6/70 C: District attorney defending criminal, traffic cases is improper
A part-time district attorney may not represent a defendant in criminal or traffic cases brought by the state or county in an adjacent jurisdiction.
5 KB M-6-70 C.pdf
M-6-70 BMemorandum Opinion 6/70 B: Part-time city attorney may defend criminal cases
A part-time city attorney is permitted to accept private legal work, including defense of criminal cases. He may participate in criminal or traffic defense work in instances in which his municipality is not a plaintiff or the officers of that city are not involved in the investigation or acting as witnesses in the case.
4 KB M-6-70 B.pdf
M-2-70 BMemorandum Opinion 2/70 B: Removal of public official from firm name
It is improper for a law firm to continue to include in its firm name or on its letterhead the name of a full-time assistant district attorney who has been on leave of absence from the firm over one year.
5 KB M-2-70 B.pdf
M-2-70 AMemorandum Opinion 2/70 A: Part-time district attorneys may accept divorce actions
In response to a request for the committee to take a position that it is improper for a part-time district attorney to accept divorce cases in his private practice, after careful consideration the committee declined to hold that such conduct is improper, stating that the district attorney could be faced with conflicts of interest in many facets of his law practice because of his public responsibilities and that by focusing on the divorce area only one phase would be covered.
5 KB M-2-70 A.pdf
M-1-71 AMemorandum Opinion 1/71 A: Open house invitations limited
In response to an inquiry regarding the propriety of an attorney or law firm conducting an open house for committees and personal friends upon moving into a new office suite or building, the committee concluded that this activity is covered in ABA Informal Opinion 623 which states that such open house may be held so long as invitations are limited to persons with whom the lawyer or lawyers have personal relationships, including present and past clients, members of the local bar and personal friends but not public officials. Such conduct is permitted under Canon 2, Code of Professional Responsibility.
5 KB M-1-71 A.pdf
M-5-69Memorandum Opinion 5/69: Corresponding with other party improper
The Ethics Committee held that it is improper for an attorney for a state agency to correspond directly with the client with a copy to his attorney in an administrative law matter where he is on notice that the client is represented by counsel.
5 KB M-5-69.pdf
M-2-69Memorandum Opinion 2/69 B: District attorney as witness
The Ethics Committee has held that Canon 19, which regulates the conduct of attorneys who must appear as witnesses in trials would apply equally to a district attorney or his assistant in a criminal prosecution in his county where he was scheduled to testify as a material witness.
5 KB M-2-69.pdf
M-2-69 CMemorandum Opinion 2/69 C: D.A. partners may not defend criminal cases
The Ethics Committee reaffirmed its earlier opinion that the partners of a part-time district attorney may not represent defendants in criminal actions in the same or adjacent counties.
5 KB M-2-69 C.pdf
M-2-69 AMemorandum Opinion 2/69 A: Removal of judge's name from firm
The Ethics Committee is of the opinion that the name of an attorney who is appointed or elected as a judge must be removed from the firm partnership name and letterhead immediately.
5 KB M-2-69 A.pdf
M-1-69Memorandum Opinion 1/69: Judge may serve on Ethics Committee
The Ethics Committee concluded that it is proper for a member of the judiciary to sit as a professional ethics committee member. There is precedent for the seating of judges on the various committees of the State Bar. In addition, a judicial member gives the committee added perspective to ethical problems.
4 KB M-1-69.pdf
M-11-69 FMemorandum Opinion 11/69 F: Lawyer appearance on television
It is proper for an attorney to appear on a national, regional or local television program concerning legal topics, in the case of educational programs for the public sponsored by or supported by bar associations, or on non-commercial programs of an educational nature produced by radio or TV broadcasting companies as a public service. The attorney may be identified by his profession. Further, he must conform to the Code of Professional Responsibility.
5 KB M-11-69 F.pdf
M-11-69 EMemorandum Opinion 11/69 E: Confession of judgment by partner improper
It is improper for the partner of a lawyer to confess judgment on a cognovit note which another member is handling in behalf of his client. Not only is there a conflict of interest involved on the basis that a member of a law firm may not engage in conduct from which his partner must abstain, but under Canon 9 of the new Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer must avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
5 KB M-11-69 E.pdf
M-11-69 DMemorandum Opinion 11/69 D: Deceased or retired partners names may be continued
Under the new provision DR 2-102(B), the names of deceased or retired partners may be continued in a firm name without restriction so long as no deception results from such practice. This provision overrules the former "four year rule" on change of partnership names stated in Opinion 10-1960.
5 KB M-11-69 D.pdf
M-7-68 BMemorandum Opinion 7/68 B: Part-time corporation counsel in criminal cases
The Ethics Committee concluded that in those counties in which the parttime corporation counsel is not required by county ordinance to assist the district attorney in the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases, ordinance violations and paternity proceedings, both his private law partners and himself may accept the defense of such actions. If he is required to assist, then his partners and himself may not accept such defense work.
5 KB M-7-68 B.pdf
M-7-68 AMemorandum Opinion 7/68 A: Trust officer as private attorney
In response to an inquiry as to whether a bank trust officer who is admitted to practice law in this state may act as counsel to another lawyer retained in a probate matter upon request by that lawyer and his client, the committee concluded that if the trust officer was acting in such capacity, it would be improper for him to handle probate, estate planning and tax orders under the circumstances.
5 KB M-7-68 A.pdf
M-6-68Memorandum Opinion 6/68: Branch office
It is improper for a Minnesota law partnership to hold itself as being entitled to practice in Wisconsin where an associate of the firm, licensed to practice in this state, is the lone attorney in the Wisconsin branch office of the partnership and neither partner is admitted in Wisconsin, only in Minnesota under Canon 33.
4 KB M-6-68.pdf
M-5-68 BMemorandum Opinion 5/68 B: No partnership exists
The question of whether it is proper for a certain law firm to hold itself out as a partnership entity, when there is a question as to whether a bona fide partnership relation exists, is a matter for a grievance committee, as the professional ethics committee limits its opinions to prospective issues.
4 KB M-5-68 B.pdf
M-5-68 AMemorandum Opinion 5/68 A: Conflict in will contest
It is improper for a law partner of a lawyer-draftsman, who is to be called as a witness, to represent the proponent of a will in a contested suit. There is one exception to this prohibition, in the instance when the lawyer-draftsman's testimony relates to the formality of execution and not to the contested issues.
4 KB M-5-68 A.pdf
M-2-68Memorandum Opinion 2/68: Public office designation improper
It is improper for the attorney's letterhead to contain the caption: "State Senator ... District." Because such information is not germane to the information required on a lawyer letterhead and is a form of self-laudation, it should be excluded.
4 KB M-2-68.pdf
M-9-67Memorandum Opinion 9/67: Specialty listing improper
It is improper for an attorney to carry on his letterhead a caption "specializing in labor and administrative law." Canon 27 specifically prohibits the listing of specialties except for the previously recognized areas of practice: admiralty law, patent and trademark law.
4 KB M-9-67.pdf
M-4-67Memorandum Opinion 4/67: Confession of judgement proper
In response to an opinion request as to the propriety of an attorney for a state agency paying a fee to a lawyer in private practice to confess judgment on a large number of cognovit notes which he was planning to collect on behalf of the state government, this committee referred to ABA Opinion 70 which permits such activity.
4 KB M-4-67.pdf
M-3-67 CMemorandum Opinion 3/67 C: Finders fee improper
The Ethics Committee reaffirmed Opinion 1-1964 in holding it is improper for a lawyer to accept a "finder's fee" or "referral fee" from an outside source as compensation for placing a client's business with such firm unless he makes full disclosure to his client and obtains express permission to accept such compensation. A lawyer owes complete allegiance and fidelity to his client and cannot divide such responsibility by accepting financial inducement from an outside source.
5 KB M-3-67 C.pdf
M-3-67 BMemorandum Opinion 3/67 B: Interstate law firm
It is proper for attorneys licensed to practice law in different adjacent states to form a partnership for the practice of law, so long as the letterhead and other listings make it totally clear in which states the individual lawyers are admitted. Obviously a lawyer from the firm not admitted in a particular jurisdiction will have to associate with local counsel if he makes appearances in court or consults with clients in such jurisdiction.
5 KB M-3-67 B.pdf
M-3-67 AMemorandum Opinion 3/67 A: County board member
Citing Opinion 12-1965, the committee concluded that it is improper for a lawyer-county board member to prosecute a claim against the county in behalf of a private client. In this case, there would be a conflict of interest between his duty as a public official and the duty to his prospective private client.
4 KB M-3-67 A.pdf
M-2-67Memorandum Opinion 2/67: Conflict in accident case
It is improper for an attorney-partner or associate of a lawyer who is a member of a local school board to represent minor passengers injured while riding a school bus, even though it is contemplated that such resulting legal claim shall be made against the liability insurer for the contracting school bus company, and not against the school board or district.
5 KB M-2-67.pdf
M-1-67Memorandum Opinion 1/67: Misuse of attorney letterhead
It is improper for an attorney to lend to a collection agency or other lay business client the use of his letterhead for their own collection purposes, or to sell a letter in blank written on his letterhead, to assist others in collection of debts, as stated in the May, 1962, informal opinion of this committee.
4 KB M-1-67.pdf
M-7-66Memorandum Opinion 7/66: Cognovit note notice
It is improper for an attorney to make use of a formal notice of application for judgment on a cognovit note as part of his collection procedure before commencement of suit.
4 KB M-7-66.pdf
M-9-65 BMemorandum Opinion 9/65 B: Indigent client charged with crime
It is improper for an attorney to accept funds from the county to represent an indigent defendant charged with a crime, and subsequently bill the client or his family for fees in the same case.
5 KB M-9-65 B.pdf
M-9-65 AMemorandum Opinion 9/65 A: Specialized legal service to attorneys
In reply to an inquiry as to whether an attorney may properly offer his services to other attorneys only for research, brief writing, and appellate work, the committee chairman cited Canon 46, as amended in 1956, which states that a lawyer available to act as associate of other lawyers in a particular branch of law or legal service may send to local lawyers and publish in a local legal journal only a brief and dignified announcement of such availability.
5 KB M-9-65 A.pdf
M-6-65Memorandum Opinion 6/65: Conflicts relating to bankrupt clients
Two questions were raised regarding an attorney's relation to a client who has requested that he commence a bankruptcy petition.
5 KB M-6-65.pdf
M-9-63Memorandum Opinion 9/63: Partnership or association?
The question was raised as to whether Attorneys X, Y and Z, who were contemplating moving into the same office location, sharing stenographic help, and pooling office and library equipment, but who would not actually engage in partnership, could use the law firm title: "X, Y and Z, Attorneys at Law."
5 KB M-9-63.pdf
M-5-62Memorandum Opinion 5/62: Client using letterhead
The inquiry is whether a lawyer may allow a lay collection agency to use his letterhead to send out demand letters on delinquent accounts. And an allied problem was whether a lawyer may deliver a collection letter duplicated on his letterhead to a client to be sent out from the client's office at the client's discretion.
5 KB M-5-62.pdf
Server Name