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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 176

Adopted August 4, 1954

QUERY

1. May a lawyer designate himself as "tax attorney", "tax consultant", "corporation lawyer", or as a "general practice attorney" on his letterheads, his office door, or his shingle?

2. May a lawyer who is a member of a civic club allow the club to classify him as a "corporation lawyer", "tax attorney", or a "general practice attorney" in its annual roster which is printed and delivered to the members of the club? All club members are classified by occupation.

ANSWER

The answer to the first question above is that a lawyer may not designate himself on his letterhead, his office door, or his shingle as engaging in special branches, as above set out for such would be indirect advertising in violation of Canon 27.

In Drinker's Legal Ethics at page 229 it is said:

"It (letterhead) may not contain a statement that the lawyer is ... tax consultant, Doctor of Jurisprudence, or specify ... any other branch practiced, ..."

and at page 231 under the heading of "Shingles" is found this statement:

"Nor may there be a statement of special branches practiced ... the test is whether the sign is intended and calculated to enable persons looking for a lawyer, already selected, to find him, or to attract the attention of persons who might be looking for a lawyer, although not for him."

ANSWER to the second inquiry

There is no violation to the Canon of Ethics to be classified in the roster of a civic club as a "corporation lawyer", "tax attorney", or "general practice attorney" in its annual roster where the members are classified by occupations or branch thereof.

See Drinker's Legal Ethics, page 268, where it is said:

"Law schools, fraternities, service clubs, and bar associations may publish rosters, registers, catalogs, or lists of their members, with their names, addresses, and occupations, which are not law lists, where no charge is made for listing and there is no suggestion that the names of the lawyers are listed as probably available for professional employment, or to promote, solicit, or secure professional employment."

We call attention to our previous Opinion No. 170 wherein we said: "it would be a violation of said Canon for an attorney to permit his name to appear on the roster of any organization which had for one of its stated purposes the urging of members to patronize one another. Such would be at least indirect advertisement for professional employment."

We assume in aswering [sic] question 2 above, that the purpose of the civic organization is not for the purpose of promoting members to patronize one another.