OBA Ethics Counsel
Ethics Opinion No. 219
Adopted October 18, 1962
An attorney desires to publish a notice in the Daily Legal News or similar legal publication as follows:
"TO LAWYERS ONLY: After a lengthy period of service in a highly specialized legal field in industry, the undersigned is available for a limited number of appointments with attorneys for consultation and assistance in connection with legal and regulatory problems peculiar to government contracts and labor and industrial relations. (Name and Address)"
Would it be proper for the lawyer to advertise in the above manner?
This inquiry necessitates an interpretation of Canon 46 which was amended in 1956 and now reads as follows:
"A lawyer available to act as an associate of other lawyers in a particular branch of the law or legal service may send to local lawyers only and publish in his local legal journal, a brief and dignified announcement of his availability to serve other lawyers in connection therewith. The announcement should be in a form which does not constitute a statement or representation of special experience or expertness."
Prior to the 1956 amendment, only a lawyer engaged in "a specialized legal service" could utilize the provisions of said canon and the Oklahoma Bar Association recognizes no specialized legal services except admiralty, patent and trademark law. The amendment to Canon 46 has been recognized by this Association. In Advisory Opinion No. 195, dated May 5, 1958, it was said:
"A brief, dignified announcement directed to lawyers only and announcing only the availability of the lawyer to act as an associate in a particular branch of law may be sent to local lawyers and published in a local legal journal."
If the proposed announcement were to be published in a "legal journal" it would, with the elimination of the self-laudatory phrases, be permitted; however, the Daily Legal News is by statutory definition a paper of general circulation and it and similar publications do in fact have a wide circulation outside the Bar, and in our opinion are not "legal journals" within the meaning of the canon. Therefore, it is improper to advertise in this type of publication.
It should be further noted that the announcement should not be in a form intended to advertise special experience or expertness. The announcement, as set out above, would be improper in that it refers to the attorney's past experience. An acceptable form would be as follows:
"The undersigned is available for a limited number of appointments with attorneys for consultation and assistance in connection with legal and regulatory problems peculiar to government contracts and labor and industrial relations. (Name and Address)"