Signing an Adoption Petition as an Accommodation
Opinion rules that a lawyer may not sign an adoption petition prepared by an adoption agency as an accommodation to that agency without undertaking professional responsibility for the adoption proceeding.
Attorney A regularly represents a private social services organization which places children for adoption. The social services organization would like to prepare and file adoption petitions on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents of children placed by the agency. Attorney A has been asked to sign those petitions as an accommodation to the social services organization with the understanding that he would not thereby assume any responsibility for the matters or actually undertake to represent the adoptive parents. May Attorney A sign the petitions under such circumstances?
No. An attorney who signs a pleading initiating a legal proceeding thereby makes an appearance in that proceeding and accepts responsibility for representation of the party on whose behalf he or she has appeared. It is therefore not possible for an attorney to sign a pleading as "an accommodation" without incurring the obligations of an attorney in the matter. If Attorney A is willing to accept responsibility for representing the adoptive parents, and they desire his services, he may sign and file adoption petitions prepared by the social services organization, provided that such petitions are prepared under his direct supervision. See Rule 3.1(a), Rule 3.3, RPC 29, and RPC 70.