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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 105

Adopted February 28, 1936

The Board is in receipt of the following inquiry:

"Inclosed find clipping from one of our local daily newspapers containing cards of six lawyers. I should like an opinion upon whether publication of these professional cards conflicts with legal ethics.

Does it make any difference that these cards are published without charge. Some of them are, at least my own is."

In response:

On February 25, 1936, by order of the Supreme Court, upon the suggestion of the Board of Governors, Rule 29, with reference to the publications of cards, was amended to read as follows:

"The use (but not publication except as provided in Rule 45) of simple introductory cards in the ordinary course of the practice of law is not improper. Such cards may, with propriety, contain a statement of the lawyer's name (and those of his lawyer associates), his profession, address, telephone number, and special branch, if any, of the profession practiced by him.

The solicitation of business by the distribution of cards or circulars, or by their publication, other than the publication of cards as permitted by Rule 45, or by other advertisement or by personal communication or interview not warranted by personal relations, is unprofessional."

By the plain provisions of the rule as amended, it is not permissible for a member of the bar to publish a card in any publication except a reputable law list or directory approved by the Board of Governors. Therefore, the publication of cards in newspapers, etc., either with or without charge, is interdicted.

It is assumed from the inquiry under consideration that the card referred to was not inserted at the instigation of the inquirer. The following language of Advisory Opinion 74 (January 1936, Bar Journal) is pertinent:

"It is improper for the members of the bar (a) to cause the insertion of the cards in the column or (b) to permit the continued publication of the cards after knowledge thereof. The first is expressly interdicted by Rule 29 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the second is a clear violation of the spirit of the rule because a member cannot have done for him what he cannot do himself."