Chapter 484 Attorneys at Law

484.053 - Supreme court to furnish director with list of persons currently licensed to practice law in Missouri — tax delinquency, effect of.

Steven Groce, Attorney Advertisement

The director of revenue is hereby authorized, pursuant to a cooperative agreement with the supreme court, to develop procedures which shall permit the clerk of the supreme court to furnish the director, at least once each year, with a list of persons currently licensed to practice law in this state.If any such person is delinquent on any state taxes or has failed to file state income tax returns in the last three years and such person has not paid in protest or commenced a reasonably founded dispute with such liability, the director shall notify the clerk of the supreme court that such person has such delinquency or failure to file.

(L. 2003 H.B. 600)

Effective 7-01-03

484.190 - Powers to suspend or remove.

Any attorney or counselor at law may be removed or suspended from practice in the courts of this state for any of the following reasons:

(1)If he be convicted of any criminal offense involving moral turpitude;

(2)If he unlawfully retain his client's money or if he is guilty of any malpractice, fraud, deceit or misdemeanor whatsoever in his professional capacity;

(3)If he shall have been removed, suspended or disbarred from the practice of law in any other state or jurisdiction and shall fail to disclose such fact in his application for license to practice law in this state.

(RSMo 1939 § 13328)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11707; 1919 § 681; 1909 § 951

(1974) All power to suspend or remove attorneys is vested in the supreme court. Harkins v. Eldredge (CA Mo.), 505 F.2d 802.

484.040 - Power to admit to practice vested in supreme court.

The power to admit and license persons to practice as attorneys and counselors in the courts of record of this state, or in any of them, is hereby vested exclusively in the supreme court and shall be regulated by rules of that court.

(RSMo 1939 § 13316, A.L. 1982 S.B. 680 Revision)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11695; 1919 § 669; 1909 § 939

484.140 - Attorney may contract for percentage of proceeds of claim — notice of lien to be given to defendant.

In all suits in equity and in all actions or proposed actions at law, whether arising ex contractu or ex delicto, it shall be lawful for an attorney at law either before suit or action is brought, or after suit or action is brought, to contract with his client for legal services rendered or to be rendered him for a certain portion or percentage of the proceeds of any settlement of his client's claim or cause of action, either before the institution of suit or action, or at any stage after the institution of suit or action, and upon notice in writing by the attorney who has made such agreement with his client, served upon the defendant or defendants, or proposed defendant or defendants, that he has such an agreement with his client, stating therein the interest he has in such claim or cause of action, then said agreement shall operate from the date of the service of said notice as a lien upon the claim or cause of action, and upon the proceeds of any settlement thereof for such attorney's portion or percentage thereof, which the client may have against the defendant or defendants, or proposed defendant or defendants, and cannot be affected by any settlement between the parties either before suit or action is brought, or before or after judgment therein, and any defendant or defendants, or proposed defendant or defendants, who shall, after notice served as herein provided, in any manner, settle any claim, suit, cause of action, or action at law with such attorney's client, before or after litigation instituted thereon, without first procuring the written consent of such attorney, shall be liable to such attorney for such attorney's lien as aforesaid upon the proceeds of such settlement, as per the contract existing as herein provided between such attorney and his client.

(RSMo 1939 § 13338)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11717; 1919 § 691; 1909 § 965

484.240 - Removal or suspension without trial.

If the charge allege a conviction for any criminal offense involving moral turpitude, the court shall, on production of the record of such conviction, remove the attorney so convicted or suspend such attorney from practice for a limited time, according to the nature of the offense, as the court may deem just, and without further trial.If the attorney be acquitted or discharged upon his trial, or if he be charged under subdivision (1), (2) or (3) of section 484.190, and appears at the time fixed by court and denies the charges preferred against him, or having been notified as required by section 484.210 or 484.220, fails to appear, the court shall forthwith hear the evidence offered in support of said charge and the evidence offered by the accused, and shall determine the matter without delay.And if the court finds that the charge has been sustained, or if the accused shall admit that he is guilty, the court shall remove him from practice or shall suspend him for a limited period, according to the nature of the offense and as the court may deem just and proper.

(RSMo 1939 § 13333)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11712; 1919 § 686; 1909 § 956

(1972) Willfully and knowingly failing to make a federal income tax return is an offense involving moral turpitude within meaning of this section (rule). In re. MacLeod (Mo.), 479 S.W.2d 443.

484.150 - Division of fees forbidden, when — penalty.

1.It shall be unlawful for any licensed attorney in the state of Missouri to divide any fees or compensation received by him in the practice of law or in doing law business with any person not a licensed attorney or any firm not wholly composed of licensed attorneys, or any association or corporation, and any person, firm, association or corporation violating this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction therefor shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than five hundred dollars and costs of prosecution, which fine shall be paid into the treasury of the state of Missouri.

2.Any person, firm, association or corporation who shall violate the foregoing prohibition of this section shall be subject to be sued for treble the amount of any and all sums of money paid in violation hereof by the person, persons, association or corporation paying the fees or compensation which shall have been so divided and if such person, persons, association or corporation shall not sue for or recover the same within two years from the date of such division of fees or compensation, the state of Missouri shall have the right to and shall sue for and recover said treble amount, which shall upon recovery be paid into the treasury of the state of Missouri.

3.It is hereby made the duty of the attorney general of the state of Missouri or the prosecuting attorney of any county or city in which service of process may be had upon the person, firm, association or corporation liable therefor, to institute all suits necessary for the recovery of said sums of money by the state of Missouri.

(RSMo 1939 § 13315)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11694; 1919 § 668

CROSS REFERENCE:

Profits of attorney through certain contracts with newspapers prohibited, penalty, 493.130, 493.140

484.250 - Trial by court or commissioner.

All trials of charges preferred against attorneys shall be by the court, and in all cases of conviction the court shall pronounce judgment of removal or suspension according to the nature of the facts found; except that, if the charge be filed in the supreme court, or in one of the districts of the court of appeals, the court may appoint a special judge to hear the evidence and make report thereof to the court.In all cases the court may tax or abate the cost of the proceedings as it may deem just.

(RSMo 1939 § 13334, A.L. 1973 S.B. 263)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11713; 1919 § 687; 1909 §§ 960, 961

484.350 - Standards for representation to be updated and adopted statewide, when.

Recognizing that Missouri children have a right to adequate and effective representation in child welfare cases, the September 17, 1996, Missouri supreme court standards for representation by guardians ad litem shall be updated and adopted statewide and each circuit shall devise a plan for implementation which takes into account the individual needs of their circuit as well as the negative impact that excessive caseloads have upon effectiveness of counsel.These plans shall be approved by the supreme court en banc and fully implemented by July 1, 2011.

(L. 2008 H.B. 1570 § 484.302, A.L. 2011 H.B. 111 merged with S.B. 237)

484.025 - Residential loans, imposition of fee to complete documentation not deemed engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

No bank or lending institution that makes residential loans and imposes a fee of less than two hundred dollars for completing residential loan documentation for loans made by that institution shall be deemed to be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

(L. 2005 S.B. 420 & 344 § 2)

484.270 - Judgment operates as removal or suspension — reinstatement, how secured.

Every final judgment or order of removal or suspension, made in pursuance of the provisions of this chapter by any court so authorized, shall operate, while it continues in force, as a removal or suspension from practice in all the courts of this state; provided, that any attorney or counselor at law removed from practice or suspended for a longer term than one year, on application to the supreme court or in the court in which the judgment of removal or suspension was first rendered, may be reinstated as such attorney or counselor at law, in the discretion of the court, at any time after one year from the date of such judgment of removal or suspension.

(RSMo 1939 § 13336)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11715; 1919 § 689; 1909 § 963

484.170 - Partners of prosecuting attorneys not to defend.

Where two or more licensed attorneys at law of this state are associated together as copartners in the practice as attorneys or counselors at law, and one of such attorneys shall be the prosecuting or assistant prosecuting attorney, or circuit or assistant circuit attorney, it shall be unlawful for such other partner or partners to appear and defend in any of the courts of this state any person charged with a misdemeanor or felony, when by law it shall be the duty of such prosecuting or circuit attorney to appear and prosecute, and this section shall apply even though such partnership may exist only for the transaction of civil business.

(RSMo 1939 § 12981)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11355; 1919 § 774; 1909 § 1039

484.260 - Defendant may except to ruling and appeal from judgment.

In all cases of a trial of charges in the circuit court, the defendant may except to any ruling or decision of the court, and may prosecute an appeal or writ of error to the supreme court, in all respects as in actions at law.And it is hereby made the duty of the supreme court to hear said appeal at the next term of said court unless continued for cause.

(RSMo 1939 § 13335)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11714; 1919 § 688; 1909 § 962

484.160 - Judgment for costs and damages rendered against attorney, when.

If an attorney or counselor at law shall commence an action and fail to prosecute the same, or if any action so commenced shall be dismissed for want of his attention, or if he shall bring the wrong action and it be necessary to enter a nonsuit, or if it shall be made to appear to the court that the action was erroneously brought, dismissed, or nonsuit entered in consequence, the court may, in its discretion, enter up judgment against any such attorney or counselor at law for the full amount of the costs thereby incurred, and all damages in consequence thereof.

(RSMo 1939 § 1434)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 1270; 1919 § 1722; 1909 § 2291

484.230 - Proceedings on failure to appear.

If the party served with such citation shall fail to appear according to the command thereof, obedience may be enforced by attachment or the court may proceed ex parte.

(RSMo 1939 § 13332)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11711; 1919 § 685; 1909 § 955

484.130 - Compensation of attorney governed by agreement — lien upon client's cause of action.

The compensation of an attorney or counselor for his services is governed by agreement, express or implied, which is not restrained by law.From the commencement of an action or the service of an answer containing a counterclaim, the attorney who appears for a party has a lien upon his client's cause of action or counterclaim, which attaches to a verdict, report, decision or judgment in his client's favor, and the proceeds thereof in whosesoever hands they may come; and cannot be affected by any settlement between the parties before or after judgment.

(RSMo 1939 § 13337)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11716; 1919 § 690; 1909 § 964

(1956) Attorney is not restricted to any particular remedy to enforce his lien. Where defendant and plaintiff settled personal injury case without consulting plaintiff's attorney and with full knowledge that suit was pending in Missouri, attorneys were entitled to recover fees from defendant notwithstanding settlement was reduced to judgment in Tennessee.Satterfield v. Southern Ry. Co. (A.), 287 S.W.2d 395.

(1956) Defendant's attorneys in partition action were not entitled to fee out of client's share under § 528.530 nor under § 484.130, because they did nothing to produce funds for their client. Munday v. Thielecke (Mo.), 290 S.W.2d 88.

(1967) A statutory attorney's lien is cumulative, rather than exclusive of existing rights or remedies. Downs v. Hodge (A.), 413 S.W.2d 519.

(1972) There is no authority for an attorney's lien on an undistributed share of an estate. Carter v. Stendeback (A.), 482 S.W.2d 534.

(1987) Attorney's lien attaches to an award arising out of a divorce proceeding and such a lien arose where attorney did services for client to set aside dissolution settlement as unconscionable before being fired by client and even though attorney had entered into unlawful contingency fee contract with ex-client. Roberds v. Sweitser, 733 S.W.2d 444 (Mo.banc).

484.220 - Citation and charges, how served.

The copy of the charges and citation may be served upon the accused by any officer authorized by law to serve writs issued by such court and in any county of this state, and if the accused be not found in this state then reasonable notice shall be given him by publication in such manner as the court may direct, unless served as provided in section 484.210, supra.

(RSMo 1939 § 13331)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11710; 1919 § 684; 1909 § 954

484.020 - Who shall engage in the practice of law or do law business — penalty.

1.No person shall engage in the practice of law or do law business, as defined in section 484.010, or both, unless he shall have been duly licensed therefor and while his license therefor is in full force and effect, nor shall any association, partnership, limited liability company or corporation, except a professional corporation organized pursuant to the provisions of chapter 356, a limited liability company organized and registered pursuant to the provisions of chapter 347, or* a limited liability partnership organized or registered pursuant to the provisions of chapter 358, engage in the practice of the law or do law business as defined in section 484.010, or both.

2.Any person, association, partnership, limited liability company or corporation who shall violate the foregoing prohibition of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction therefor shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars and costs of prosecution and shall be subject to be sued for treble the amount which shall have been paid him or it for any service rendered in violation hereof by the person, firm, association, partnership, limited liability company or corporation paying the same within two years from the date the same shall have been paid and if within said time such person, firm, association, partnership, limited liability company or corporation shall neglect and fail to sue for or recover such treble amount, then the state of Missouri shall have the right to and shall sue for such treble amount and recover the same and upon the recovery thereof such treble amount shall be paid into the treasury of the state of Missouri.

3.It is hereby made the duty of the attorney general of the state of Missouri or the prosecuting attorney of any county or city in which service of process may be had upon the person, firm, association, partnership, limited liability company or corporation liable hereunder, to institute all suits necessary for the recovery by the state of Missouri of such amounts in the name and on behalf of the state.

(RSMo 1939 § 13314, A.L. 1982 S.B. 680 Revision, A.L. 1997 H.B. 655 merged with S.B. 170)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11693; 1919 § 667

Effective 6-24-97 (H.B. 655); 5-20-97 (S.B. 170)

*Word "on" appears in original rolls.

(1987) This section does not prevent a foreign insurance corporation from sending in-house counsel to defend its insureds, where such counsel is admitted to the Missouri Bar.In re. Allstate Ins. Co., 722 S.W.2d 947 (Mo. banc).

(2008) Provision awarding treble damages for unauthorized practice of law or law business does not violate due process.Carpenter v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 250 S.W.3d 697 (Mo.banc).

484.200 - Charges, where exhibited.

Charges against an offending attorney shall be in writing and verified, and may be preferred by any member of the bar in good standing, or by any judge of a court of record required by law to be a person learned in the law.The charges may be exhibited and proceedings had thereon in the supreme court, in any of the districts of the court of appeals, or in the circuit court of the county, in which the actions or practices complained of shall have been committed or the accused resides.

(RSMo 1939 § 13329, A.L. 1973 S.B. 263)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11708; 1919 § 682; 1909 § 952

484.010 - Practice of the law and law business defined.

1.The "practice of the law" is hereby defined to be and is the appearance as an advocate in a representative capacity or the drawing of papers, pleadings or documents or the performance of any act in such capacity in connection with proceedings pending or prospective before any court of record, commissioner, referee or any body, board, committee or commission constituted by law or having authority to settle controversies.

2.The "law business" is hereby defined to be and is the advising or counseling for a valuable consideration of any person, firm, association, or corporation as to any secular law or the drawing or the procuring of or assisting in the drawing for a valuable consideration of any paper, document or instrument affecting or relating to secular rights or the doing of any act for a valuable consideration in a representative capacity, obtaining or tending to obtain or securing or tending to secure for any person, firm, association or corporation any property or property rights whatsoever.

(RSMo 1939 § 13313)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 11692; 1919 § 666

(1952) The preparing of real estate contracts, deeds, notes, leases, chattel mortgages on standardized forms as part of transaction effectuated by real estate broker, does not amount to practice of law; but the preparation of such instruments in transactions in which he is not acting as broker or the making of separate charges for such services even when he acts as broker, or the giving of legal advice, constitutes practice of law and is in contempt of court if done by nonlawyer. Hulse v. Criger, 363 Mo. 26, 247 S.W.2d 855.

(1960) The definition in this statute of the practice of law is binding on the court in a proceeding under § 484.020 which makes violation of the statute a misdemeanor but it is not binding in a proceeding to enjoin the practice of law by an individual for the reason the power to regulate and define the practice of law and the doing of law business is a prerogative of the judicial department. Automobile Club of Mo. v. Hoffmeister (A.), 338 S.W.2d 348.

(1960) The appearance by Automobile Club attorneys in court to enter pleas of guilty and pay fine for members of the club and to obtain continuances of cases held to constitute the practice of law and therefore subject to being enjoined. Automobile Club of Mo. v. Hoffmeister (A.), 338 S.W.2d 348.

(1960) The representation of himself by a party to a law suit does not constitute the practice of law. Klingensmith v. Thurman (A.), 339 S.W.2d 300.

(1961) Individual layman employed as the community services representative of labor council, who advised various individuals as to their rights under the workmen's compensation law after they were injured and also appeared before the legal advisers of the workmen's compensation division as well as representing individuals who were seeking unemployment compensation benefits before referees of the division of employment security, was engaged in the practice of law for a consideration and would be enjoined by the supreme court and also fined for engaging in such practice without being a duly licensed attorney. Hoffmeister v. Tod (Mo.), 349 S.W.2d 5.

(1978) Held, advertisement and sale of "divorce kits" does not constitute the unauthorized practice of law so long as no personal advice as to legal remedies is given. In re Thompson (Mo.), 574 S.W.2d 365.

(1992) Escrow companies may not prepare or complete nonstandard or specialized documents such as contracts for deed, special warranty deeds, leases, lease-purchase agreements, easement agreements, well agreements, trustee deeds, wraparound notes and deeds of trust or any other document that requires the exercise of judgment or discretion, because such activities constitute the practice of law or doing business of law in the state, In re First Escrow, Inc., 840 S.W.2d 839 (Mo. banc).

484.210 - Day for hearing — citation, where served.

The court in which such charges shall be exhibited shall fix a day for the hearing, allowing a reasonable time, and the clerk shall issue a citation accordingly, with a copy of the charges annexed, which may be served upon the accused wherever found.