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Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Collection Letters
Client's Use of Lawyer's
Name and Stationery

    Inquirer requests an opinion in a matter involving a variation of the matters discussed in Opinion 259, 96 N.J.L.J. 754 (1973).
It is not this Committee's function to determine how close to the wind an attorney may sail in lending his name to a client in its collection work. He should not do so at all. See Opinion 259.
    The procedure suggested in this inquiry, for example, proposes three form collection letters on the attorney's stationery representing increasing pressure to pay rising through various administrative levels of the client. The first threatens that if the account is not paid, the "National Collection Manager will be notified;" the second that the "National Collection Manager has received the account" and threatens that unless it is paid, it may "be judged uncollectible by Mr. Doe." The final letter states that the matter has been "referred to me for the purpose of assisting them in the collection," etc.
    All letters are intended to be bulk mailed by the client with return envelopes addressed, not to the attorney, but to the client. The inquirer states, however, that he will review the lists and
and accounts at each stage and maintain records and answer "all questions, phone calls and letters directly". We observe that this might not occur in practice since the return envelopes are addressed to the client.
    The specific question, however, is - "Could the client undertake the mailings by its bulk mail system and receive back the payments?" The answer to the specific question, as a general proposition is that these elements taken in a vacuum may not be objectionable. Where, however, the effect of the entire scheme is that the attorney is allowing his name to be used by his client to lend "clout" to the collections and where the judgments are being exercised not by the attorney but by "The National Collection Manager" or "Mr. Doe" or the client, the practice is still disapproved.
    Opinion 259 remains the guide in this area.

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