NYSBA Ethics Opinion 35

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #35 – 11/08/1966 (8-66)

Topic: Use of Name in Testimonial
Digest: Not improper for lawyer to permit use of his name in a testimonial which does not disclose that he is a lawyer
Canon: Former Canon 27

QUESTION

An attorney suffered a fire loss in his office. The insurance company has asked permission to use the attorney’s name in a testimonial to be contained in an advertisement praising the efficiency with which the company, agent and adjuster handled the claim and the personal attention of the adjuster and agent. The advertisement would not state that the attorney is a lawyer. The attorney would not receive compensation for the use of his name and he does not represent the insurance company or the advertising agency as attorney.Would authorization to publish the testimonial violate the Canons of Ethics?

OPINION

It is the opinion of the Committee that the use of the name of a member of the Bar in the proposed testimonial would be proper and not in violation of Canon 27 of the Canons of Professional Ethics.Informal decision #C788 (12/11/64) of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association states, “This Committee has decided that the question whether an attorney should permit his name to be used in connection with a testimonial for a commercial product is a matter of taste and not ethics”. This was also the opinion of the Professional Ethics committee of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York dated January 17, 1940. The facts are distinguished from those contained in opinion #31 (6/8/66) of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the New York State Bar Association in that no identification of the individual as a member of the Bar is contained in the proposed testimonial.The Committee refrains from comment upon the propriety of a member of the Bar participating in such testimonials.

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