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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 143

March 8, 1950

Advertising - Law List of Automobile Association.

Firm of lawyers could not properly permit automobile association, which owned and operated a casualty insurance company, and which published a law list of recommended attorneys to be used by insureds to publish law firm's name in the list of recommended attorneys for use by insureds in event of litigation.

THE FACTS

An Automobile Association which owns and operates a casualty insurance company publishes a law list of recommended attorneys to be used by the member-assureds of the association-insurance company.  A firm of Oklahoma lawyers has been solicited to allow its name to be published in such list as among those recommended for use by said member-assureds in the event of litigation in Oklahoma involving or arising out of membership in or insurance by said association-insurance company.  The firm of Oklahoma lawyers so solicited has asked advice as to whether such listing would be proper.

QUERY

Would it be proper under the above stated circumstances for the Oklahoma lawyers to accept a listing in the aforesaid list of recommended attorneys?

ANSWER

It is the opinion of the Committee that the listing would not be proper.  Although the language of Canon 27 of the American Bar Association is not absolutely clear on the question, we believe a proper construction of that Canon would preclude the listing.  Moreover, the Committee on Law Listings of the American Bar Association has not approved the particular law list in question.  In addition, the Committee points out that similar questions have been heretofore presented to the State Bar of Oklahoma and decided in accordance with the above.  For instance, Advisory Opinion No. 124, appearing in the November, 1936, Oklahoma Bar Journal, contains the following language:

"A publication, the primary purpose of which is not a listing of lawyers, or which contains a roll of lawyers as an adjunct to other matters not addressed to the profession, is not within the term of 'Reputable Law Directory', or 'Reputable Law List'."

See, also, Opinion No. 96, November 22, 1935, reported in Advisory Opinions Volume 1, page 168, and Opinion No. 98, December 26, 1935, to the same effect.