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                                             87 N.J.L.J. 169
                                            March 19, 1964


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court



Attorney and Client Intermediaries

    This inquiry is best understood from its full presentation:

        As attorneys for a lending institution, we have been asked to prepare “estate planning tax studies” for selected customers of the institution from information supplied by the institution. They wish to show their customers the advantages which accrue from the use of a corporate fiduciary.

        We will have no contact with the customers and our names will not be used by the institution in connection with the program. From the information supplied we will submit to the institution a "study" showing in general terms the advantages of various estate planning devices. A copy of a sample “study” is enclosed for your examination. This “study” will be signed by a corporate officer and our name will not appear. If the customer expresses an interest, he will be told to contact his own attorney. While the lending institution will make no charge for this service, we will bill it for our time in preparing the “studies".

Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 35 reads in part:

        The professional services of a lawyer should not be controlled or exploited by any lay agency, personal or corporate, which intervenes between client and lawyer. A lawyer's responsibilities and qualifications are individual. He should avoid all relations which direct the performance of his duties by or in the interest of such intermediary. A lawyer's relation to his client should be personal, and the responsibility should be direct to the client.

    The service requested by the lending institution of its attorneys is not for the lending institution, but rather for its selected customers, whom the attorneys never contact, and, further,

the result of the service performed by the attorneys, called a "study," is permitted by the attorneys to be appropriated by the lending institution with the affixing of the signature of its corporate officer thereto, and by it being shown to its selected customers. American Bar Association, Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 35 (1931) states:
        Lawyers should not aid or participate in any way in the practice of law by laymen or lay agencies, nor should they in any way sanction the same or profit therefrom.

    The Committee is of the opinion that such an arrangement would be a clear violation of Canon 35. See N.J. Advisory Committee on
Professional Ethics, Opinion 17, 87 N.J.L.J. 113 (1964).

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