The Florida Bar

April 14, 1975
An attorney who regularly represents a bank in collection matters may not sign and mail form collection letters completed in material part by bank employees not acting under the attorney's supervision and control.

CPR: Canon 3; EC 3-6
Opinion: 70-27

Vice Chairman Sullivan stated the opinion of the committee:

The inquiring attorney represents a bank and has regularly represented that institution in collection matters, including preparation of demand letters when those collection matters are referred to him.

He proposes to prepare a form letter making demand for payment but leaving blanks for amount, date and other particulars of individual loans. He would furnish the bank with his form letter together with a supply of his stationery. Bank employees would then prepare individual letters, inserting the correct amounts and date and then return the unsigned letters to the attorney for review, signature and mailing.

He asks for the Committee's opinion as to the propriety of this procedure.

The Committee is of the opinion that the proposed procedure is improper and violates Canon 3. While EC 3-6 approves and encourages delegation of work to lay persons, it requires that the attorney maintain a direct relationship with the client, supervise the delegated work and have complete professional responsibility for the work product.

These requirements are not met when the letters are mass produced as part of an outside operation and where the professional responsibility consists solely in signing letters prepared by others.

In Opinion 70-27, the Committee condemned a similar proposal which differed from the present one only in the fact that the demand letters contained the client's return address. The Committee sees no difference between the two.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]