SOLICITATIONOUTSIDE BUSINESSJOINT OCCUPANCY OF OFFICES Two members of a law firm ethically may be members of another partnership engaged in the oil business and conducting its business from the same offices, where the oil firm does not feed law practice to the law firm, provided the arrangement is such that the lawyers are not advertised as lawyers in connection with the oil firm.
Canons 24, 25, 30.
A, B and C are partners under the firm name of A, B, and C. B practices little but receives 1/3 of the profits. A and B are in another partnership with X, a layman and geologist. B devotes most of his time to the oil partnership, and contributes some legal services to the oil partnership. Occasionally B asks the oil firm to perform title work for the oil firm, and the oil firm may or may not be paid for the legal services.
While the names of the law firm and the oil partnership are different, the mailing addresses are the same. The phone is listed in the name of the law firm, but the oil firm's business is conducted from the oil firms offices and the oil firm contributes to expenses. The oil firm does not have any type of sign on the law office door or on the building.
Does this arrangement violate any Texas Canon?
Canon No. 30 is not violated. The partnership of A, B, and X is not a partnership for the practice of law. Although B performs legal services for the oil partnership, the oil partnership is not engaged in the practice of law.
Canons 24 and 25 are not violated. A lawyer may engage in any legitimate business outside his law practice so long as it does not result in the solicitation of law practice for (or the feeding of law practice to) him as lawyer. One purpose of prohibiting a lawyer from entering into partnerships with men of other professions, such as accountants, and the purpose of prohibiting a lawyer from conducting businesses as an estate planning service or a collection agency from the lawyers office is to preclude the development of a feeder-type relationship. See A.B.A. opinions 57 and 272. The oil business is not of a nature inherently calculated to solicit law business for or feed law practice to the law firm. Where, as here, A and B apparently do not advertise themselves as lawyers in connection with the oil firm, do not use an office sign which might connect the oil firm as a feeder of law business, and apparently do not mention on the oil firm letterhead that A and B are lawyers, there is no evidence of an improper feeder-type relationship. Compare Texas opinions 142 and 196. The arrangement does not in itself violate any Texas Canon. (9-0)