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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 167

Adopted June 10, 1953

QUERY

Lawyers who were formerly suspended from the practice of law and who have been subsequently reinstated now make inquiry as to what type of announcements, letters, or notices, if any, they may send out with reference to their reinstatement, and whether or not they can properly send said announcements, etc., to any or all of the following:

1. former clients

2. lawyers

3. friends and acquaintances

4. people in the community

5. public generally.

ANSWER

The lawyers now making the inquiry were formerly members of the Bar and were suspended from the practice for solicitation. The assumption is that they make the above inquiry in good faith and to avoid committing the same offense for which they were previously suspended.

Canon 27 reads in part:

"It is unprofessional to solicit professional employment by circulars, advertisements, through touters or by personal communications or interviews not warranted by personal relations. ...; but the customary use of simple professional cards is not improper."

We think that a simple announcement containing the lawyers' name, address and telephone number together with a short statement that they are resuming the practice of law, to be proper. As to whether or not they could send it to any one of the five classes set out above, depends upon whether or not they really have "personal relations" with any one in said classes. It would appear to us that they would not have "personal relations" with "people in the community" and the "public generally." As to lawyers, they could send it to lawyers generally for Canon 46 provides that a brief dignified notice of a specialized legal service may be sent to that class.

Any doubt in the minds of the senders of the announcements as to whether or not they have "personal relations" with those persons to whom they are sending the announcements should be construed against the lawyers sending the same.