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                                         95 N.J.L.J. 271
                                        March 30, 1972


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court

Return to Practice Announcements

    The Supreme Court has referred to this Committee for opinion certain announcements sent by lawyers who are leaving state service to engage in the practice of law. In recent years, there has been a tendency to send out announcements which plainly are in violation of the Canons of Professional Ethics and which now violate the Disciplinary Rules of the Code of Professional Responsibility which our Supreme Court adopted and made a part of the Rules Governing the Courts on September 13, 1971.
    DR 2-101 (Publicity in General) and DR 2-102 (Professional Notices, Letterheads, Offices, and Law Lists) now delimit specifically the areas in which lawyers may send out announcements, public notices and otherwise bring their names to public attention.
    DR 2-102(A)(2) states that a brief professional announcement card giving new or changed associations or addresses may be mailed
to lawyers, clients, former clients, personal friends and relatives, but it "shall not state the nature of the practice except as permitted under DR 2-105." The latter section, which in turn makes reference to DR 2-102(A)(6) (not here applicable), lists areas of specialty concerning which a lawyer may hold himself out publicly.

    In A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Opinion 301 (1961), it was stated that it was entirely proper for a member of the bar to explain by announcement his absence from practice and his prior employment when he returns to the practice of law, but that the announcement should be limited to those facts. See also, A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Informal Opinion 1131 (1970), which states that the new Code does not permit a lawyer to hold himself out as a specialist in a particular field, nor as having special training or ability in a particular field of law.
    In Wise, Legal Ethics 153 (2d ed. 1970) it is stated: "However, in such an announcement (as in all) particular care should be used to avoid phraseology which suggests expertise in any branch of the law or smacks of self-laudation."
    An example of a recent announcement which prompted the Supreme Court to refer the matter to this Committee is one in which it was
stated that the individual "will specialize as Bond Counsel in connection with the issuance of obligations by governmental bodies." The individual in question was resigning from a high state office. Such an announcement, it seems to us, is a blatant attempt to solicit business in the area of acting as counsel for bonds to be issued by various governmental authorities. It clearly violates the Disciplinary Rules above cited, and this type of announcement should in the future be avoided. DR 2-102(A)(2) specifically states what is permissible, and this should be followed.

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