NUMBER 189 1921

Question. A and B, lawyers, were co-partners. The partnership was dissolved by consent.

Is it ethical, or consistent with professional dignity, for A to attempt to secure professional employment from a former client of the co-partnership who had been originally introduced to the co-partnership by B. and whose affairs had always been in the personal charge of B while the partnership continued, by offering to serve for fees much smaller than the reasonable and substantially uniform fees that had been charged to that client by the co-partnership for the same kind of services?

Would it make any difference if the instance cited were but one of a number, thus indicating a general policy on A’s part to secure, by means of “rate-cutting” employment by those clients of the former firm who, but for such “rate-cutting,” would probably prefer to employ B?


Answer. Canon 7 of the Canons of Ethics of the American Bar Association provides, among other things, as follows: “Efforts, direct or indirect, in any way to encroach upon the business of another lawyer, are unworthy of those who should be brethren at the Bar,” . . . In the opinion of the Committee the principle stated is a correct one, and the circumstances suggested in the question make it applicable; and, consequently, make the practice reprehensible.