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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 243

Adopted June 25, 1966

INQUIRY

This Committee has been asked for a formal opinion of the ethics involved in the following notation stamped upon the face of an Abstract of Title with a rubber stamp:

Line 1--Examined by

Line 2--Doe, Roe, and Brown (Fictitious firm name)

Line 3--Opinion to Consolidated Homes (Fictitious name of firm to whom sent.)

Line 4--Date received 12-29-64.

OPINION

Canon 27 forbids advertising or soliciting directly or indirectly by a lawyer. This canon as construed by the Legal Ethics Committee of the American Bar Association in opinion No. 179 does not prohibit the employment of advertising facilities to acquaint the lay public with the expert service the legal profession is able to render, especially in respect to those matters where the securing of competent legal advice and assistance in advance of acting will be calculated to protect the client's rights and interests; provided it is carried on by an organized Bar Association and not by individual lawyers, so that any semblance of personal solicitation and any impression that it is actuated by a selfish desire to secure greater professional employment is avoided.

Advisory opinions of the American Bar Association, and of the Oklahoma Bar Association condemning any semblance of personal advertising and solicitation as unethical, are too numerous and well understood to require further citation.

This Committee holds that the stamped notation on the Abstract of Title could be construed as personal solicitation or advertising since the notation remains a permament [sic] part of the Abstract it would serve to inform future purchasers that said Abstract has been examined by the firm named in the notation and might possibly cause a buyer to assume that since the title had been previously examined there would be no need for further examination. In any event a buyer upon seeing the notation certainly could be motivated to send the abstract back to the firm listed in the notation for a later examination.

This Committee cannot escape the conclusion that such a notation would only serve to advertise the firm whose name appeared thereon to all those who have occasion to see the Abstract. It is therefore the opinion of this Committee that the use of such notation in this manner is unethical.