OPINION 34
March 1951

CONFLICTING INTERESTS—LETTERS TO OPPOSING PARTY—An attorney who on behalf of a client writes a letter to the other party to a collision demanding damages and suggesting that she consult her insurance carrier, and who later signs his son’s name to another letter addressed to the same party recommending that she take out a policy with one of the companies represented by the son's insurance agency, shows poor judgment and discretion.

Canon 6.

Question

On October 25, 1950, on his own letterhead and over his own signature, a practicing attorney made demand for damages, on behalf of a client against the other party to an automobile collision, and suggested that such other party consult her insurance carrier about the accident, if she had not already done so.

A son of this same attorney had an insurance agency which was conducted in another building in the same city, and on the date the letter was written the son was out of the city on a visit to his grandmother in anticipation of being drafted into service. During his absence, this attorney for and on behalf of the insurance agency, and on the letterhead of the insurance agency, signed his son’s name to a letter addressed to this same lady upon whom he was making demand for damages, pointing out the advantages of carrying automobile liability insurance and recommending that she take out such a policy with one of the companies represented by his agency. Neither the attorney’s letter nor the letter written on behalf of the insurance agency disclosed that the owner of the insurance agency was a son of the attorney.

Does the conduct outlined above violate any of the Canons of Ethics of the State Bar of Texas?

Opinion

The committee was evenly divided on this question. Five members were of the opinion that such conduct violated the spirit, if not the letter, of Canon 6 which deals with the subject of Adverse Influences and Conflicting Interests. The other five members did not feel that such conduct violated any of the Canons, but they were all of the opinion that such conduct showed poor judgment. and discretion. (5-5)