Opinion 87-19
(June 1987)

Your request for professional guidance, as set forth in your letter to me of June 11, 1987, was presented to the Professional Guidance Committee at its meeting on June 15, 1987. This letter will constitute the opinion of the Committee on the issue presented.

In your letter, you stated that you represent an out-of-state plaintiff in a case which was referred to you by an out-of-state attorney. You have learned, as a result of the plaintiff's deposition, that your referring counsel has made loans to the plaintiff for treatment and living expenses.

Your referring counsel has asked you to move his admission to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, so that he may participate in the trial of the case. You have asked whether moving the admission would be appropriate under the Code of Professional Conduct.

The Committee concluded that the payments made by the referring attorney to the plaintiff were in clear violation of DR5-103(B). This conclusion was premised on the information you provided to me that the jurisdiction in which the referring attorney practices law has a code of professional responsibility similar to that in Pennsylvania. In that regard, your attention is directed to Professional Guidance Opinions 87-78-T, 86-65, 85-145, and 75-12, all of which deal with the appropriateness of counsel advancing funds to a client.

The Committee also discussed whether you had an obligation under DR1-103 to disclose to the appropriate authorities your knowledge of the violation of the Code committed by the referring attorney. The Committee was unable to conclude that you had such an obligation, because of the information which we had, and the fact that the referring attorney is subject to the jurisdiction of another state. At a minimum, however, we recommend that you advise the referring attorney of your potential obligation under DR1-103, which clearly may come into play, if you move the admission of the referring attorney in the District Court.

In connection with the specific question of moving the admission of the referring attorney, you should be aware of the fact that the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania require certain representations as to the good professional character of the attorney who seeks to be admitted and also provide for Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement in connection with the admission process, including those admitted pro hac vice. In particular, see Local Rules 11, 12, 14; and, specifically, 14 Rule VIII [Attorneys Specifically Admitted.]

In view of the foregoing, it would be our recommendation that you not move the admission of your referring attorney, unless you are prepared to reveal to the court the conduct which appears to the Committee to be a clear violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

If you need additional guidance, please let the Committee know.

The Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee provides, upon request, advice for lawyers facing or anticipating facing ethical dilemmas. Advice is based on the consideration of the facts of the particular inquirer's situation and the Rules of Professional Conduct as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Committee's opinions are advisory only and are based upon the facts set forth. The opinions are not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. They carry only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.