89 N.J.L.J. 248
April 21, 1966
Trial Counsel as Specialized Service
A firm of attorneys in New Jersey desires to insert an
announcement in the New York Law Journal under the heading of
"Specialized legal services" as follows: New Jersey Trial Counsel,
Tort, Contract and Product Liability.
The ethical question propounded is whether such an announcement is permitted by Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 46.
Canon 46 provides as follows:
Where a lawyer is engaged in rendering a specialized legal service directly and only to other lawyers, a brief, dignified notice of that fact, couched in language indicating that it is addressed to lawyers, inserted in legal periodicals and like publications when it will afford convenient and beneficial information to lawyers desiring to obtain such service, is not improper.
In ABA Comm. on Professional Ethics and Grievances, Opinion 194 (1939) it was held that Canon 46 should be strictly construed. To quote from the opinion:
The following requirements of the Canon are explicit: (1) the notice can only relate to a service constituting a specialized legal service within the meaning of the Canon; (2) the lawyer must be engaged in rendering such service directly and only to other lawyers; (3) the notice can be addressed only to other lawyers or inserted in legal periodicals and like publications when it will afford convenient and beneficial information to lawyers desiring to obtain such service; and (4) the communication or publication must confine itself to a "brief dignified notice" that the lawyer is engaged in rendering such service.
The question arises whether trial counsel is a specialty within the contemplation of the Canons.
Any attorney admitted to practice is eligible to try cases in all our courts. Those practitioners who exhibit skill in this field are forwarded matters by attorneys who do not have the inclination
or the temperament to engage in trial work. Reputation as to their skill and ability becomes recognized by the members of our profession and no insertion in a legal periodical is required to herald their proficiency in this field.
We are cognizant that Drinker in his excellent work on legal ethics mentions that in some jurisdictions trial counsel is a specialty. Drinker, Legal Ethics 236 (1953). However, it does not appear that the work of trial counsel should be considered a specialized legal service within the confines of the Canons and hence we deem the announcement to be improper.