Informal Opinion Number: 930149

Rules: 1.6;1.7;7.1
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Confidentiality of Information
Summary: office sharing with non-attorney, telephone, confidentiality, client files, physical arrangement

QUESTION: Attorney is president of a small corporation (not a law firm). Attorney does not provide legal representation to the corporation. All of the records and business transactions of the corporation are kept separate from Attorney´s law practice. May Attorney have the executive offices of the corporation housed within Attorney´s law offices? This would include notation on the door and the building directory as well as the office address being listed on the corporation´s letterhead. ANSWER: Sharing space with another business is permitted but the two businesses must be maintained separately. The corporation must have a separate phone number answered for the business and not the law office. The files and other information must be separately maintained to ensure confidentiality of information related to the law practice. The physical arrangement should be one which enables clients of both businesses to understand that the businesses are separate. Also, aside from the executive office question, Attorney should be very careful to take Attorney´s relationship to the corporation into account in Attorney´s conflicts checking system.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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