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96 N.J.L.J. 751 ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
June 21, 1973
Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court
Including Biographical Sketch
This inquiry concerns the guidelines and limitations of the
lawyer's biographical sketch included with articles prepared by him
and published in a professional journal for real estate brokers.
The proposed information is as follows: "JOHN DOE, J.D.
Mr. Doe received his B.A. degree from . . College in 1964,
majoring in economics, and was graduated with honors from the . .
School of Law in 1969, his area of concentrated study being real
property. He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of
New Jersey and the United States District Court in 1969 and is a
member of the New Jersey State Bar Association and the County Bar
Association. Mr. Doe practices in New Jersey, and serves as
solicitor for the zoning board of adjustment, the County Industrial
Commission, Inc., and the County Chamber of Commerce."
Disciplinary Rule DR 2-101 "Publicity in General," provides:
(A) A lawyer shall not prepare, cause to be
prepared, use, or participate in the use of,
any form of public communication that contains
professionally self-laudatory statements
calculated to attract lay clients; as used
herein, "Public Communication" includes, but
is not limited to, communication by means of
television, radio, motion picture, newspaper,
magazine, or book.
(B) A lawyer shall not publicize himself, ... as a
lawyer through newspaper or magazine
advertisements, radio or television
announcements, display advertisements in city
or telephone directories, or other means of
commercial publicity, . . . This does not
prohibit limited and dignified identification
of a lawyer as a lawyer as well as by name:
(5) In and on legal textbooks, treatises, and
other legal publications, and in dignified
Is the inquirer's biographical sketch a form of public
communication that contains professionally self-laudatory
statements calculated to attract lay clients and not calculated to
publicize himself as a lawyer?
It is not improper for an attorney, upon request, to write an
article on a legal subject for publication, nor upon request, to
send a picture to be published with such an article A.B.A. Comm. on
Professional Ethics and Grievances Opinion 141 (1935).
An attorney may not furnish material for a newspaper article
on his activities as an attorney, nor may he agree to the
publication of such an article ABE Comm. on Professional Ethics,
Informal Opinion 552 (1962).
While an attorney may issue news release intended only to
further his candidacy for a political office, he may not release
news items of his professional, political, civic, or social
activities desired, directly or indirectly, to further his
professional interests as an attorney. The test in each case is
the attorney's motive and such can be edged generally only by the
subject matter of the releases, their tone, and the general
reputation of the attorney. A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics,
Informal Opinion 546 (1962). There is no justification for the
participation and acquiescence by an attorney in the development
and publication of an article which on its face, plainly amounts to
a self-interest and unethical presentation of his achievements and
capabilities. Matter of Connelly, 18 App. Div. 2d 466. 478, 240
N.Y.S. 2d 126, 138 (l963). No biographical sketch can have as its
purpose or object, that of aiding the 1awyer in securing
professional employment in private practice by advertising his
professional experience, attainments and ability. A.B.A. Comm on
Professional Ethics and Grievances, Opinion 184 (1938).
The question always is - whether under the circumstances the
furtherance of the professional employment of a lawyer is the
primary purpose of the advertisement, or is merely a necessary
incident of a proper and legitimate objective which does not have
the effect of unduly advertising him. A.B.A. Comm on Professional
Ethics and Grievances, Opinion 290 (1956). So far as a lawyer can
control his publisher, lawyer-author should permit the
advertisement of the book, but not the advertisement of the lawyer
A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics and Grievances, Informal
A lawyer's name may be shown and fact that he is a
lawyer of a particular state.
Publisher may extol lawyer's virtues as an author,
but not advertise the details of the lawyer's practice,
may show his practice in the field of law on which he has
written but not honors received, laudatory statements,
membership in bar associations and in fact any
biographical data not bearing directly on his knowledge,
experience, and ability in the field of law written about
See Wise, Legal Ethics 32-33 (1966).
The use of the degree J.D. is not recommended or approved in
New Jersey, nor is any of the other material suggested, except the
author's name and the fact that he is a New Jersey lawyer The other
material is not calculated to sell the articles, but to sell the
author, and therefore lacks the dignity which is prescribed for
lawyers and is self-laudatory and prohibited.
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