Informal Opinion Number: 960093

Rules: 1.7
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Conflict of Interest: General Rule
Summary: conflict of interest, signage, joint advertising

QUESTION: Attorney´s office is part of an office sharing arrangement. Attorney wants to become an assistant municipal judge. Some of the other attorneys in the office sharing arrangement appear in municipal court. The office sharing arrangement is such that Attorney rents space from the other attorneys. Attorney shares the library, copier and fax machine. Attorney has separate secretarial support, file storage and telephone. Would this be a conflict? ANSWER: Based on Attorney´s description of the office arrangement, it sounds as though it is a true office sharing arrangement. However, there are always more factors that can affect that conclusion. If, for example, Attorney does not have adequate controls to maintain confidentiality, if the office and signs are not clearly marked so that the public will understand the separation of the firms or if Attorney engages in joint advertising, the conclusion in that regard might change. Assuming that Attorney´s arrangement is an office sharing arrangement, it will not involve a conflict of interest for Attorney as an attorney to continue in this arrangement while also serving as an assistant municipal judge. As an assistant municipal judge, Attorney´s conduct will also be governed by Supreme Court Rule 2, the Code of Judicial Conduct. Attorney should contact the Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline of Judges for an opinion under that rule.

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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