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ETHICS OPINION 227
NUMBER 227 1924
Question. In its answers in Opinions 69 and 91 the Committee expresses its disapproval of the practice of attorneys investigating unsatisfied judgments and communicating with judgment creditors asking their authority to proceed with the collection. In its opinion is it improper for an attorney, having an information respecting a judgment debtor, which, in his opinion, would enable him to enforce the amount of an unsatisfied judgment, to communicate with the attorney of record of the judgment creditor, advising him that the first named attorney had such information and would like to obtain authority to collect the judgment on a contingency basis, agreeing to divide his compensation with the attorney of record? In the Committee’s opinion is it improper for the attorney of record to transmit the offer to his client and in case of collection, to share the compensation?
Answer. In the opinion of the Committee, it is improper for an attorney to make a practice of investigating unsatisfied judgments recovered by persons with whom he has had no previous professional or personal relations, for the purpose of being employed in their collection.
There may be circumstances under which an attorney having information which he thinks will lead to the enforcement of a judgment may and even should communicate it to the attorney for the judgment creditor, but if he offers to communicate the information only upon condition that he be employed, his conduct is not to be approved. The impropriety of such solicitation of employment is not cured by making the approach to the judgment creditor through the attorney of record.
The attorney of record should transmit the offer to his client and give him the opportunity of availing himself of it and should at the same time inform his client of the character and possible consequences of the work proposed to be done.
Any agreement made by him for sharing compensation should be with the knowledge of his client, and such participation should be based upon his services and responsibility.