NUMBER 359 1940
Question. Doctor X and attorney Y are brothers. Doctor X in the course of his practice and, because of the relationship of physician and patient, is asked by the patient, who has suffered personal injuries, whether it is advisable to retain an attorney, whereupon Doctor X would recommend his brother, attorney Y.
No consideration motivates the recommendation by Doctor X, other than that he is related to attorney Y. No fee splitting is involved, and Doctor X does not solicit for Attorney Y. His recommendation is given either upon request for such or when the patient asks the doctor his advice as to what best to do.
Would the answer be the same if said physician is in the city hospital service, and such recommendation is made upon request to those given treatment thereat?
Answer. In the opinion of the Committee, on the facts stated, acceptance of employment by an attorney who has been recommended by a physician upon the request for such recommendation being made to the physician by a patient, where such physician is in private practice, would not be professionally improper. However, in view of the close relationship between the physician and the attorney, the attorney should be cautioned against a practice of accepting such retainers which might thereby be a device or arrangement for systematically obtaining business for the attorney and stirring up of litigation in contravention of Canons 27 and 28. See, as to solicitation, Sections 270 to 275a of the Penal Law of the State of New York.
The Committee disapproves the practice of an attorney accepting cases recommended to him by a physician in a city hospital in contravention of the regulations of the Department of Hospitals of the City of New York, whether or not such physician is a brother of the attorney.