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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 267

Adopted July 28, 1972

OPINION

The Committee has been presented with a factual question involving the propriety of the professional "shingle" of two attorneys whose offices are located in a multi-story business building within a shopping center area. The "shingle" is located at the bottom of a complex of signs close to the thoroughfare which is adjacent to the shopping center parking lot and approximately 150 feet from the commercial building where the offices of the attorneys are located. The "shingle" is designed with lettering which is prominent and as "eye-catching" as are the commercial advertisements in the eight sign complex. The commercial signs are intended to constitute advertising to the general public which uses the thoroughfare adjacent to the shopping center in question.

The "shingle" involved in this matter, considering its location among advertising by commercial establishments, the size of the sign itself and the lettering appearing thereon and the proximity of the building where the attorneys' offices are situated, does not aid a client seeking the lawyers involved to locate the attorneys. This "shingle" is rather a public notice that Mr. A and Mr. B are lawyers whose offices are located somewhere in the subject shopping center.

Canon 2 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is pertinent to this matter. Disciplinary Rule 2_102(A)(3) authorizes an attorney to use a sign or "shingle" on or near the door of his office and in the building directory so that persons seeking the attorney may locate the attorney's office.

The propriety of a particular "shingle" or other locator information with respect to an attorney's office is determined by whether the use of the "shingle" in question provides a service to the attorney's clients or is a form advertising.

The context within which the "single" in question appears, its size and its location both respect to the public street and the attorneys' office within the adjacent commerical [sic] building is not calculated to provide a service to clients seeking to locate the attorneys' office but in fact constitutes a public solicitation of business by the attorneys involved.

This "shingle" is a flagrant violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the disciplinary Rules of the Code pertinent to advertising by attorneys.