ETHICS OPINION 317
NUMBER 317 1933
Question. A client gives to his attorney, X, a claim to collect in the sum of $350. X commences an action and obtains judgment for the sum of $350, with interest and costs. After some indulgence on X’s part, the entire judgment is paid in full to X who turns the moneys over to his client. At the time of payment the judgment-debtor gives X $25, stating that it was in appreciation of X’s kindness, gentleness, and indulgence in handling of the case. Is it professionally proper for:
1. X to accept the $25 under the circumstances stated?
2. If X accepts the $25, should he account to his client therefor?
3. If no, should X inform his client of such payment?
Answer. In the opinion of the Committee, the acceptance by attorneys for creditors of gifts from their debtors is not to be countenanced. The temptation to neglect the interests of clients for the hope of such reward is obvious.
The question indicates that in the case suggested it was a recognition, not only of kindness and gentleness, but of indulgence. While indulgence may be entirely proper in any given case, it should not be predicated upon the expectation of personal advantage to the attorney, nor should it admit of such reward. Consequently, the Committee is of the opinion that it should be refused, regardless of the consent or ignorance of the client.