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                                         92 N.J.L.J. 721
                                        November 6, 1969


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Professional Card Language Ability

        The inquirer states that he is a newly admitted attorney and anticipates representing Spanish-speaking clients, most of whom do not read, write or speak the English language. The inquiry relates to his professional card and he asks whether he may have printed on it "Specializing in Spanish-speaking Clientele" or, in lieu thereof, "Spanish spoken here."
    Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 27 governs this inquiry. It permits a lawyer to have a dignified professional card containing his name, name of his law firm, profession, address and telephone number.
    In Assn. of the Bar, City of N.Y., Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 636 (1940), the question involved a New York lawyer who had recently been appointed Commissioner of Deeds for Puerto Rico for the State of New York. He desired to acquaint the public with that fact by publication in a Spanish-language newspaper circulated in New York City. The Committee held that it would be a violation of Canon 27 and stated:
    Such adverting would constitute a mere routing of business to a law office. While a Commissioner not a lawyer would be free to so advertise, when both offices are combined in one person the professional obligations circumscribe the scope of advertising at least to prevent a subtle commercialization of one position as a feeder to bring professional business to the other.

    In A.B.A. Comm on Professional Ethics, Informal Opinion 269 (1969), the inquirer asked if a firm of lawyers might list on its card, "Languages: English, Spanish and French." The Committee held that this would be a violation of Canon 27 and stated:
        In view of the use of the word “only” in Canon 27, it has been held that Canon 27, with Canon 46, states all the exceptions to the general rule prohibiting direct or indirect advertising by lawyers, and what is not specified is not permissible.

    In A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Informal Opinion 572 (1962), it was held to be a violation of Canon 27 to list language ability in the biographical section of Martindale-Hubbell.
    It is the opinion of this Committee that the inclusion on a lawyer's professional card of any reference to his ability in languages, would be a violation of Canon 27 and improper.

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