87 N.J.L.J. 190
March 26, 1964
Unsolicited Newspaper Feature
This inquiry involves a father and son partnership.
A local weekly newspaper published in the municipality, where the partnership practices law, requested an interview with a member of the firm, for the purpose of a new feature column which the newspaper intends to publish. The column will, from time to time, feature "father and son businesses."
The inquiry is:
Whether or not I would be permitted to grant the interview and give them a resume of my educational background, the years I have been practicing law, and the various corporate entities I have represented, and clients I have represented, and a similar resume of my son's educational background and of the facts that we formed a partnership and moved from another municipality to the one that we are now in, where we established our offices as a partnership.
We are advised that the proposed publication was unsolicited by the attorneys involved.
A photograph of a lawyer accompanied by a summary of his educational background, the years engaged in practicing law, and the various corporate entities represented, together with clients represented, has the appearance of a solicitation of business by advertising which must be condemned as a violation of the Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 27. The attention of the public is drawn in an unusual manner to the lawyer in connection with his profession. A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics and Grievances, Opinion 43 (1931).
The A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics and Grievances, Opinion 244 (1942) states:
Canons of Legal Ethics can never receive the wholehearted acceptance and support of the Bar, which is essential to their enforcement, unless they be interpreted in accordance with their spirit and intent, in order to prevent the abuses at which they were obviously aimed, as distinguished from a technical or literal construction which could have them cover practices not generally regarded by the Bar as inherently improper or unethical.
The fact that the newspaper column in question may be a news item, does not lessen its advertising feature.
The American Bar Association, Committee on Professional Ethics, Decision 79, states:
A law firm may not acquiesce in the publication by a magazine of a laudatory history of the firm, or allow itself to be listed as counsel for a community chest.
It is the opinion of this Committee that the cooperation and acquiescence of the lawyer in the publication of the proposed "feature column" would be a violation of Canon 27.