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                                         90 N.J.L.J. 849
                                        December 28, 1967


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Newspaper Articles

    The following inquiry has been submitted:

        I have been requested to write a by-line column for a monthly newspaper entitled The Labor Herald. This column will consist of discussions of the National Labor Relations Act, and the decisions of the National Labor Relations Board. The Labor Herald is distributed in New Jersey and parts of New York. ...There will be no remuneration paid for this column... .

    This inquiry is governed by Canons of Professional Ethics,

Canon 40:


        A lawyer may with propriety write articles for publications in which he gives information upon the law; but he should not accept employment from such publications to advise inquiries in respect to their individual rights.

    Canon 40 has been interpreted by the American Bar Association's Committee on Professional Ethics (quotations from A.B.A. Committee's annotations on the canon), in Formal Opinion 92 (1933):
        An attorney may sell articles of a general nature on legal subjects to periodicals of general circulation.

Formal Opinion 162 (1936):

        While an attorney may write articles on legal subjects for a trade magazine, he may not offer to answer readers' questions which are submitted to him.

Informal Opinion 538:

        It is not unethical for an attorney to contribute monthly articles on practical questions of law to a non-legal publication if the articles are of a general nature and constitute dignified and constructive treatment of the law, its history, philosophy, and interpretation.

Informal Opinion 743:

        A lawyer may write articles for publication in lay papers explaining holdings and any dissenting opinions in decisions handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. The attorney's name may be given but no picture should be used and his office address should not be given.

    In the light of these opinions, it is the opinion of this Committee that the inquirer may ethically proceed as outlined in the inquiry.

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