January 7, 2011
This responds to your inquiry (10-139) asking whether you may continue to receive money from the ******** County Sheriff’s Office regarding wage garnishments for certain clients. You advise that no further legal work is required and that you simply retain your fee and pay the balance to the client.
While a full-time judge is prohibited from practicing law (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[G]), the Committee previously has advised that a full-time judge who practiced law until assuming judicial office may collect fees owed to him/her for legal services he/she performed prior to assuming judicial office even if such fees are not payable for one or more years(see Opinions 95-12 [Vol. XIII]; 89-134 [Vol. III]). The Committee also has advised that a judge may perform ministerial acts that are related to the judge’s prior private law practice (see Opinions 06-57; 03-37). Therefore, you may continue to receive money from the ******** County Sheriff’s Office regarding wage garnishments for certain clients, retain your fee, and pay the balance to the client even if you will receive such money for one or more years.
The Committee also suggests that you consult the Professional Conduct Rules for any provisions that address maintenance or dissolution of your lawyer’s escrow account now that you no longer are engaged in the private practice of law.
I have enclosed Opinions 06-57, 03-37, 95-12 (Vol. XIII); 89-134 (Vol. III) for your convenience.