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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 15

Oklahoma Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee Advisory Opinions Opinion No. 15. Advertising or Soliciting in a Newspaper Ad Is Unprofessional Conduct.

Adopted January 22, 1932

The Board of Governors of The State Bar of Oklahoma is in receipt of the following request from a member of the State Bar for an advisory opinion:

"........, Oklahoma.

January 6, 1932.

BOARD OF GOVERNORS,

State Bar of Oklahoma,

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma,

Gentlemen:

A newspaper of large circulation proposes from day to day to publish pictures or drawings of likenesses of citizens of the community in which it is issued, connecting therewith descriptive statements as to birth, general inclinations and the present occupations of such citizens. Each person whose picture, etc., is published is to pay therefor a certain sum, which sum is said to represent only the cost of publication.

Some question has arisen in the minds of certain members of the Bar as to the propriety of a member of the Bar procuring his picture, etc., to be thus published and an advisory opinion on the matter will be appreciated."

In response:

Rule 29 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Oklahoma is identical to Section 27 of the canons of professional ethics adopted by the American Bar Association.

In answer to a similar inquiry the Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances of the American Bar Association, (Opinion No. 43) held:

"A photograph of a lawyer, accompanied by a statement of his name, address, and vocation is not a professional card and its publication, if paid for by the lawyer, either directly or indirectly, becomes a solicitation of business by advertising which must be condemned as a violation of canon 27. The attention of the public is drawn in an unusual manner to the lawyer in connection with his profession. One of the features which distinguishes an advertisement from a news or literary article is the fact that its publication is paid for by the one receiving the benefit of the publicity and the amount of the payment or what particular item of cost the payment is supposed to cover are immaterial."

The Board of Governors is of the opinion that the opinion of the Committee of the American Bar Association on Professional Ethics and Grievances is correct, and adopts it as its opinion.