October 1966

CONFLICT OF INTEREST CRIMINAL PRACTICE BY LAW FIRM OF WHICH COUNTY ATTORNEY IS A MEMBER County Attorney's disqualification to defend criminal cases also disqualifies all members of his law firm.

Canon 6. Article 2.08 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

SOLICITATION LETTERHEAD An attorney may not include the words "Civil Counsel" on his professional letterhead.

Canons 24, 39.


County Attorney X proposes to form a partnership for the practice of law with Y and Z. Since he is prohibited from defending criminal cases he proposes to handle only civil matters and to designate himself as "Civil Counsel" on the firm's letterhead. Two questions of ethics are presented:

1.  May any member of the firm ethically act as counsel in the defense of criminal cases?

2.  May the firm ethically designate attorney X as "Civil Counsel" on its letterhead?


1.  Since County Attorney X is prohibited by Article 2.08 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure from acting as counsel adversely to the State in any case in any Court all members of the firm are likewise disqualified under Canon 6. Opinions 23 (December, 1949), 37 (May, 1951), 132 (June, l956), 183 (October, 1958), and 187 (October, 1958). (8-0.)

2.  The designation "Civil Counsel" is not authorized under Canon 39 and while it does not indicate any special expertise and is not self-laudatory, it is solicitous in nature and is therefore condemned under Canon 24. See Opinions 198 (June, 1960), 267 (October, 1963), 291 (June, 1964), and 302 (August, 1965). To the extent that Opinions 52 (May, 1952) and 77 (September, 1953) are inconsistent herewith, they are overruled. (8-0.)