RPC 2.2; 7.1(a); 8.4(c)
Use of assumed name for fee collection; lawyer acting as mediator as cover for joint representation in dissolution
First, the Committee reviewed your inquiry concerning fee collections. [The lawyer proposed sending notices to delinquent clients under the names "Legal Audit Services" and "Bureau of Legal Economics."] The Committee was of the opinion that the use of "Legal Audit Services" or "Bureau of Legal Economics" would violate RPC 7.1(a) and/or RPC 8.4(c). Further, while the Committee could render no opinion regarding any legal issues, there was some question that the use of such fictitious names might violate laws regarding debt collection in Washington.
Second, as to your inquiry concerning a lawyer acting as a mediator, the Committee was of the opinion that the question of the attorney/client relationship is governed by the substance of the relationship and not the form. The Committee was of the opinion that based upon the facts presented, this was an attempt to use mediation as a cover for improper joint representation of parties in a marriage dissolution proceeding.