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                                         93 N.J.L.J. 132
                                        February 26, 1970


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Credit Card Collection Plan for Attorneys

    Inquiry has been made as to the ethical propriety of lawyers participating in a plan for the collection of legal fees, which operates as follows:
    Upon rendering a bill to a client, the bill is processed in the attorney's office by the use of a validator machine and a validated bill is deposited at the local bank, resulting in immediate crediting of the deposit to the attorney's account. The plan, known as the Bank Americard, is apparently a broad based credit card being circulated by lending institutions throughout the country. The cost of the service to the attorney would be $10 per year for the rental of the "validator" and 5% of the bills collected through the plan.
    A similar plan was considered by the A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Informal Opinion 1120 (1969), where it was held that it would be unprofessional for a lawyer to subscribe to a credit card plan of this nature. It was stated in that opinion:             Such plans are primarily aimed at facilitating the sales of merchandise and sales of non-professional services. All the publicity is directed to that end. The general public understands this to be the case. It is wrong, in our opinion, to put professional services in those categories.

    There has been a growing tendency to inject commercialism into the practice of law and this tendency should be curbed. Our traditions and values should not be eroded by permitting the use of collection plans intended primarily for mercantile establishments.
    Accordingly, the use of the proposed plan is disapproved.

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