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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 150

Adopted November 8, 1950

QUERY

Is it a breach of professional ethics for a lawyer to pay for or contribute to the cost of a photograph for publication or of the publication of his photograph, with or without biographical data, but with identification of the subject of the photograph as a lawyer?

ANSWER

A photograph of a lawyer, with or without accompanying biographical data, but accompanied by a statement of his name and vocation, is not a professional card, and therefore its making and publication, if paid for by the lawyer, in whole or in part, either directly or indirectly, becomes a solicitation of business by advertising which must be condemned as violative of the Canons of Professional Ethics. By the means referred to the attention of the public is drawn in an unusual manner to the activities of the subject of the photograph and directly in connection with his profession. An advertisement of this type is to be distinguished from a news or literary article, and one of the principal distinguishing characteristics is the payment by the lawyer, in whole or in part, for the publication or of the cost of the photograph or plate. See Opinions Nos. 15 and 92, State Bar of Oklahoma; Opinion No. 43, American Bar Association.