Opinion rules that a lawyer may not employ a bail-bondsman as regular part-time investigator.
Attorney A is a licensed attorney in private practice in North Carolina. Attorney A would like to hire B as a part-time private investigator. B currently works both as a licensed private investigator and a licensed bail-bondsman. Attorney A wishes to enter into a contractual arrangement by which he would pay B a set monthly fee for private investigation services.
Attorney A has never received a client as a result of B's bail-bond business. He has asked B to write bonds for 4 or 5 clients, and B has done so on all but one of those occasions. Attorney A has no other connection with B's bail-bond business and does not anticipate any change in that situation.
B wishes to retain his bail-bond license and to continue to work part-time as a bail-bondsman. If Attorney A retains B on a regular basis as a part-time investigator, B's bail-bond business would remain entirely separate and independent of Attorney A's legal practice except that Attorney A would probably, on occasion, request that B write a bail-bond for one of Attorney A's clients. Attorney A would have nothing else to do with B's bail-bond business and would observe strictly the prohibition of an attorney's owning or operating a bail-bond business.
May Attorney A ethically enter into a contractual relationship with B for regular part-time private investigation services under the conditions set out above? If so, may Attorney A list him on his letterhead as a licensed private investigator on Attorney A's staff?
No. The proposed contractual relationship gives an appearance of impropriety.