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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 129

Adopted November 30, 1936

Since the publication, in the April, 1936, State Bar Journal, of the resolution of the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Bar Association condemning the insertion of names of members of the bar in bold type in the classified section of telephone directories certain members of the bar of this state, who have heretofore had their names listed in such manner, have raised with the telephone company the question of the propriety of continuing so to do; thereupon such members and the telephone company requested the Board of Governors to give its view upon the subject.

In response:

The Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Bar Association in the resolution referred to resolved that:

"The publication in telephone and other lay directories of the name of an attorney in type of a different style or size from that usually employed in such directories is a form of advertising and is therefore improper."

In the resolution the Board of Trustees referred to Opinion number 53 of the American Bar Association's Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances. In that opinion it was said:

"As a matter of public convenience, it is desirable that a lawyer have his name listed in the classified telephone directory which the telephone companies authorize. So long as the lawyer's name is listed in such a directory in the usual manner and in the same style and size of type as other names are listed, such listing is not advertising, as there is nothing which will particularly distinguish the name of one lawyer from that of another. Payment for listing of this nature does not alter its character or carry any implication of impropriety. A lawyer who is not a telephone subscriber, but who uses the telephone of the firm with which he is connected or the telephone of some other subscriber, must usually pay for the listing of his name in telephone directories. The listing of a lawyer's name in such directory assumes quite a different character which he pays for having his name published in type of a different style or size from that in which the names of other lawyers are listed. In that event, it becomes a form of advertising, and a lawyer's conduct in causing it to be so published must be condemned."

The Board concurs in the views of the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Bar Association and of the Committee of the American Bar Association; and is of the opinion that the practice referred to, i. e., the listing of names of members of the bar in bold faced type in telephone directories, is interdicted by Rule 29 of the rules of professional conduct as a species of advertising. It is accordingly disapproved of.