October 1958

INTERMEDIARIES - SOLICITATION - STIRRING UP LITIGATION - CHARITABLE INSTITUTION REQUIRING EMPLOYMENT OF DESIGNATED LAW FIRM - A law firm may properly accept and handle all or any of the adoptions of children placed by a charitable home although the home requires the adopting parents to use only the firm designated by the home.

Canons 2425, 32 .


Is it a violation of the Canons of Ethics for a law firm to handle all, or any, of the adoptions of children placed by a charitable home with adopting parents to sign an agreement that only the attorney selected by the home would be used?
Would there be any violation if the home used two or three law firms?


In the absence of facts indicating solicitation by a law firm of the business of handling the adoption proceedings, or of facts showing such control over the charitable home by a lawyer or law firm so that "feeding" of business results, the committee unanimously agrees that Canons 24 and 25 would not be violated by the law firm accepting such employment.

Whether this situation constitutes the intervention of a lay agency between attorney and client presents a close question.  It is noted that Canon 32 broadly provides, "Charitable societies rendering aid to the indigent are not deemed such intermediaries."  Moreover, in placing a child for adoption such a charitable institution owes a duty to the child, and to itself, to assure that all necessary legal requirements are properly met.  For this reason the situation described is brought within the purview and reasoning of Opinion 150.  Therefore, the charitable institution may properly designate competent legal counsel to handle the entire adoption proceedings, and counsel so designated may properly accept such employment.

One member of the committee expressed the view that there would be no violation if the required agreement would not prohibit the adopting parents from employing an attorney of their choosing to be present and review the instruments used in completing the adoption. (7-1.)