83-F-44 - Corporation billing clients for in-house counsel services

FORMAL ETHICS OPINION 83-F-44

Inquiry is made by in-house corporate counsel about the propriety of allowing the corporation to bill its customers for legal services performed by corporate counsel.

Corporations may use lawyer employees to conduct its own legal affairs but may not use them to perform legal services for others. This would constitute the practice of law by a non-lawyer.

Any participation by corporate counsel in performing legal services to corporate customers is in violation of Disciplinary Rule 3-101(A) of the Code of Professional Responsibility which prohibits a lawyer from aiding a non-lawyer in the unauthorized practice of law.

Any participation by corporate counsel in allowing the corporation to collect money for the performance of legal services is in violation of Disciplinary Rule 3-102(A) which prohibits a lawyer from sharing legal fees with a non-lawyer.

This 14th day of April, 1983.

ETHICS COMMITTEE:
F. Evans Harvill
Oscar B. Hofstetter, Jr.
William R. Willis

APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD