NUMBER 300 1932

Question, A retail installment house retains an attorney to collect its outstanding installment delinquent accounts and pays the attorney a yearly retainer. Aside from commencing actions to foreclose liens and to collect balances, the attorney is to write pertinent collection letters. Ordinarily, all such letters would be written and issued from the attorney’s office, but because of the volume of delinquent accounts, the attorney finds the matter quite burdensome, particularly since client insists that all attorney collection letters be individually typewritten. That is to say, a printed form is disapproved for the reason that client is of the opinion such forms are not as effective as they otherwise might be if typewritten.

Client therefore makes the suggestion that the attorney permit a stenographer in the office of client to prepare all such letters, to enclose them in an envelope bearing the name and address of the attorney, and at the close of each day to send such prepared letters and envelopes to the attorney’s office along with the rest of the mail. When such prepared letters are received the next day at the attorney’s office, they are opened, read, signed, and mailed to the debtors. So far as the type of letter is concerned, client wishes the attorney to furnish it with two forms and wishes to operate this system based upon the use of these two letters only. In other words, client will have its own stenographer prepare these letters, typewrite each individually, send them on to the attorney for his approval and signature, and in that wise, save the attorney time and effort necessary to prepare such letters. Of course, there is to be a distinct understanding between client and attorney that under no circumstances are such letters to be signed and mailed by client or stenographer, but that in each and every case, all such letters must be mailed directly to attorney’s office for his approval and signature, and as to the latter, only if the letter meets with his approval.

Does the Committee think this unethical and should the attorney permit himself to enter into such a plan?

Answer. The Committee has heretofore (Opinion 102) expressed the view, which it reiterates, that an attorney should not delegate any professional function or power to his client (See Matter of Rothschild 140 App. Div. 583).


In the opinion of the Committee, the procedure outlined in the question excludes the delegation of any professional function or power by the attorney to the client or his stenographer, and involves no professional impropriety, provided the attorney satisfies himself that he has sufficient information to justify him in signing and sending the letters.