Ethics Counsel on www.OKbar.org

OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 247

Adopted May 11, 1967

INQUIRY

This Committee has been requested to render an Opinion as to whether or not an attorney may refer to degrees received by him from graduate schools which he attended prior to his admission to the Bar on his shingle, professional card or letterhead. He further asked the question as to whether or not he could use the word (Doctor) or (Dr.) preceding his name upon any of the above mentioned items or in introducing himself to others.

OPINION

Canon 27, which prohibits advertising by lawyers, provides that schools attended, with dates of graduation, degrees and other education distinctions, may be shown in reputable law list, and at least by implication provides that they may not be shown elsewhere. We feel that it is improper for a lawyer to use the designation Juris Doctorate or Doctor on a letterhead, shingle or professional card, introduce himself or allow an introduction with the title Doctor preceding his name, on the grounds that the only purpose of such designation would be to indicate special qualifications as a lawyer and would be self-laudation in violation of Canon 27.

Drinker on Page 231 of his book (Legal Ethics) states that:

"Some years ago the American Bar Association Committee approved certain designations on the shingle which it did not sanction on a letterhead, the rule is now the same for both and a lawyer may not display on his shingle the designation Doctor of Juris Prudence."

In Advisory Opinion No. 237 of the Oklahoma Bar Association, Syllabus 6, we held that:

"A professional announcement can contain only the name or names of the lawyers and firm concerned, change in relationship with any, the lawyer or lawyers involved, applicable office address or addresses, and a statement with respect to commencing or continuing or resuming the practice of law."

In comparison it would seem that the line must be drawn more sharply herein since we are asked specifically about letterheads, shingles or professional cards which are used daily as distinguished from an announcement.

See also Formal Opinions No. 183 and Informal Opinions No. C_409, C_445, and C_712 of the Standing Committee on Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association.