Ethics Opinion 202

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinions

Opinion #202 – 09/30/1971 (36-71)

Topic: Announcements in Newspaper
Digest: Announcements of changes within a law firm may not be released to the press
Code: EC 2-9; DR 2-102 (A) (1) (2)

QUESTION

May an attorney or bar association furnish a newspaper of general circulation a release or advertisement with information concerning a new firm name, new partner, new address or telephone?

OPINION

Such conduct is not permitted.EC 2-9 states in part:”…The traditional ban against advertising by lawyers …is rooted in the public interest …History has demonstrated that public confidence in the legal system is best preserved by strict, self-imposed controls over, rather than by unlimited, advertising.”DR 2-102 (A) states:’A lawyer or law firm shall not use professional cards, professional announcement cards, office signs, letterheads, telephone directory listings, law lists, legal directory listings, or similar professional notices or devices, except that the following may be used if they are in dignified form:(1) A professional card of a lawyer identifying him by name and as a lawyer, and giving his addresses, telephone numbers, the name of his law firm and any information permitted under DR 2-105.A professional card of a law firm may also give the names of members and associates. Such cards may be used for identification but may not be published in periodicals, magazines, newspapers, or other media. (2)  A brief professional announcement card stating new or changed associations or addresses, change of firm name, or similar matters pertaining to the professional office of a lawyer or law firm, which may be mailed to lawyers, clients, former clients, personal friends, and relatives.  It shall not state biographical data except to the extent reasonably necessary to identify the lawyer or to explain the change in his association, but it may state the immediate past position of the lawyer.  It may give the names and dates of predecessor firms in a continuing line of succession.  It shall not state the nature of the practice except as permitted under DR 2-105.”This Disciplinary Rule affirms the rule as found in Former Canon 27 and opinions which prohibit newspaper announcements of this nature. N.Y. State 83 11968); N. Y. State 77 (1968); N. Y. County 311   (1933).The fact that a bar association or other person might be the intermediary furnishing the newspaper such information cannot change the rule or the reasons therefor.

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