Ethics Opinion 105a

By Committee on Professional Ethics

Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #105(a) – 10/30/1969 (24-68)
Withdraws #105
Topic: Use of academic degrees
Digest: Under new Code lawyers may show earned law degrees on letterheads and other listings; and may use title “Doctor” provided their earned law degree is a J.D. or other legal doctorate
Canons: Code of Professional Responsibility (Effective Jan. 1, 1970) EC 2-9 and 2-10; DR 2-102 and 2-102(F)


Has the adoption of the Code of Professional Responsibility, operated to overrule our Opinion No. 105, insofar as that opinion disapproved of professional use by lawyers holding a J.D. or other earned doctors degree of the title “doctor” or the publicizing of their degree?


On September 27, 1969, the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association adopted the American Bar Association’s Code of Professional Responsibility (hereafter referred to as “the Code”) as the Canons of Ethics of the New York State Bar Association, effective January 1, 1970.Disciplinary Rule 2-102 of the Code mandates certain professional standards relating to professional notices, letterheads, offices and law lists. Subsection (F) of this Disciplinary Rule provides:(F) Nothing contained herein shall prohibit a lawyer from using or permitting the use of, in connection with his name, of [sic] an earned degree or title derived there from indicating his training in the law.In the opinion of our Committee the above quoted provision was intended to modify the traditional professional restraints on lawyers showing their law degrees on letterheads, signs and other notices, or using the title “Doctor”.  Thus our Opinion No. 105 is withdrawn.With the effective date of the new Code, a lawyer may, if he wishes, list any earned law degrees (LL.B.; J.D.; LL.M.; S.J.D. or J.S.D.) following his name on professional cards, announcements, letterheads, office signs, and in telephone or other directory listings.  A lawyer who has earned a doctor’s degree in Law (J.D., S.J.D. or .S.D.) may also use the title “Doctor”, both professionally and socially.  Where a J.D. has been awarded retroactively, in place of an earned LL.B. degree, it may be treated as an earned degree,Although it is no longer improper for a lawyer to list his earned law degrees or to use the title “Doctor” if his degree is a J.D. or one of the other legal doctorates, care must be taken that any such listing or use be accurate and dignified. See Code EC 2-9 and 2-10.

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