Ethics Opinion 169

By Committee on Professional Ethics

Ethics Opinion 169

Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #169 – 11/06/1970 (49-70)

Topic: Directories; Advertising
Digest: Proposed publication and distribution would be proper if certified by the American Bar Association and specialties are omitted
Code: EC 2-9, EC 2-10, EC 2-14; DR 2-101(A); DR 2-102(A) (6), DR 2-103(A), DR 2-105


May a roster of members of an organization composed of judges and court personnel, all of whom are attorneys, which will be distributed only to members of such an organization for their sole use, indicate the specializations of each member?


It is the opinion of the Committee that the proposed publication and distribution would be proper only if it omitted reference to the specialties of the members.”Reputable law lists” may include the lawyer’s name, address, biography and “branches of his profession practiced”. The American Bar Association certified law lists which its Special Committee on Law Lists believes to be “reputable”. The membership directory of the association in question is not a law list.DR 2-105 (A)(2) allows for publication of brief dignified notice of the fields of law in which an attorney will accept referrals.New York State has no provision for certification of a lawyer as a specialist in a particular field of law as provided for in DR 2-105(A) (4). EC 2-14 of the Code provides as follows:”In some instances a lawyer confines his practice to a particular field of law. In the absence of state controls to insure the existence of special competence, a lawyer should not be permitted to hold himself out as a specialist or as having special training or ability, other than in the historically excepted fields of admiralty, trademark, and patent law. “The membership directory in this case is not a legal periodical m: a publication which may list areas of referrals.See N.Y. State 62 (1967).

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