NUMBER 291 1932

Question. A is engaged in business in looking up uncollected judgments of many years’ standing and then by tracing and investigation is able to locate some assets of these judgment debtors.

An arrangement is then made by A with the judgment creditor to furnish information which information if it leads to collection of the judgment will give A a certain percentage of the moneys collected. Under this arrangement A is authorized to retain counsel to take such steps by way of supplementary proceedings or third party orders as may be necessary.

Is there anything unethical in a retainer of this kind?


Answer. In the opinion of the Committee, the answer should be “yes” for the following reason: A is in effect an independent contractor, whose only interest is in the amount recovered. The lawyer is his lawyer and there is no direct relationship between the lawyer and the real plaintiff, the judgment- creditor. In such circumstances the lawyer opens the way to his exploitation by A. (See Canon 35 of the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association.)