PINION 364
April 1973

DIVORCE KITSAn attorney may not furnish to clients "Divorce Kit for Do-It-Yourselfers".

Question

The Professional Ethics Committee has been furnished correspondence from Attorney David J. Nagle of Houston, Texas, submitting a "Divorce Kit for Do-it-Yourselfers", and the Committee has also received a request of the General Counsel of the State Bar of Texas, to recommend what action is to be taken in connection with the avowed purpose of such attorney to use and market such "kits".

The attorney proposes to furnish such "kits", in a discriminating selection, to such of his clients, as he believes intelligent enough to represent himself in presenting his cause to the Court in non-children, non-property and non-contested cases.

The attorney would fill in the blanks in the petition, waiver and judgment; furnish such completed instruments to the client with written instructions as to filing, obtaining signatures and filing waiver, appearing in Court to represent himself and present his case to the Courts for judgment.

The attorney's charge would be $110.00, instead of his regular charge of $350.00 for completely handling such a divorce case.

Opinion

The committee is of the sense that such plan probably violates at least the spirit, and probably the letter, of such Canons, among others, as:

a.   Canon 1 - DR 1-102(A)(5) Conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

b.   Canon 2 - EC 2-2 Educational program should be motivated by a desire to benefit the public rather that to obtain publicity or employment for        particular lawyers.

c.   Canon 2 - EC 2-16 Profession to receive adequate fees in order to remain a viable forceand habitually charging small fees as a means of          advertising.

The Committee, however, instead of placing its objections to "kit" upon the construction of the above Canons, is of the view that "kit" plan directly violates Canon 3 - EC 3-7 concerning the Bar's attitude toward a person representing himself. The Canon readily recognizes that any person has the right to represent himself, but, "Even so, the legal profession should help members of the public to recognize the legal problems and to understand why it may be unwise for them to act for themselves in matters having legal consequences."

The Committee believes the "kit" practice would encourage rather than discourage self-representation; put an undue burden on the Clerks and Courts, and probably, in many instances, result in improper representation of a client. (10-0).