June 1957

UNAUTHORIZED PARTNERSHIPS—DIVISION OF FEES—EMPLOYING LAYMEN-- An attorney under contract with a County to collect delinquent taxes cannot properly employ laymen to aid him in collecting such taxes without suit where the layman is to be paid a percentage of the amount collected without suit.

Canons 30 31A.B.A. Canon 34.


Is it a violation of the Canons of Ethics for an attorney who has a contract with the County to collect delinquent taxes to employ a layman to do clerical work and make other efforts to collect such delinquent taxes by means other than filing suit and pay such layman (a) a percentage of the amount collected without suit, or (b) a salary based on a percentage of the amount of taxes collected without suit the previous month?


All members of the committee agree that payment by either of the percentage methods above set out is unethical, as violating Texas Canon 30 which provides: "Partnerships between members of the State Bar and members of other professions or nonprofessional persons shall not be formed or permitted where a part of the partnership employment consists of the practice of law," and also as violating Texas Canon 31 which provides: "No division of fees for legal services is proper, except with other lawyers, based upon a division of service or responsibility, or with a forwarding attorney."

American Canons 34 is substantially the same. Opinion 225 of the American Bar Ethics Committee was cited in support of the view that the collection of claims and delinquent taxes by a lawyer without court action is practicing law. (8-0)