OPINION 42
June 1951

UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW ABSTRACT AND TITLE COMPANIES—A member of a law firm may maintain an office in the same quarters with an abstract and title company. His name may appear on the window above the word "attorney" and he may be listed in the telephone directory as having an office with the same address and telephone number as the company. His firm may do all the work for the company, including the legal papers required in connection with title policies, although the company never voluntarily advises a customer that he might use his own attorney, provided the company never refuses to permit the customer to have the papers prepared by his own attorney.

Canon 43.

Question

A member of a firm of attorneys maintains an office in the same quarters with an abstract and title company. His name appears on the window, with the word "Attorney" beneath it, and he is listed in the telephone directory as having an office at the same address, and with the same telephone number, as the abstract and title company.

His firm does all the work for the abstract and title company. Also, almost without exception, the legal papers required in connection with title policies are drawn by this firm of attorneys. The abstract and title company has never refused to permit a customer to have such papers prepared by the customer's own attorney, but has never voluntarily advised such customer that he might use his own attorney.

Is the practice, as above set forth, in violation of the Texas Canons of Legal Ethics?

Opinion

While this committee is aware of the controversy which exist as to abstract and title companies engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, and are in full accord with the decisions in such cases as Hexter Title and Abstract Co. v. Grievance Committee, 179 S.W.2d 946, and Stewart Abstract Company Judicial Committee, 131 S.W.2d 686, a majority of its members do not feel that the rather sparse facts stated in the above question are sufficient to bring that situation within holdings of those cases. Nor do they find that find that such state of facts presents a violation of the Texas Canons of Ethics. (7-2)