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                                         98 N.J.L.J. 633
                                        July 24, 1975


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Who's Who in New Jersey

    This inquiry relates to the propriety of preparing and submitting to United States Public Relations Service, publishers of Who's Who in New Jersey biographical data to be included in its annual publication. The inquirer received the following letter from the publisher:
    Dear Who's Who Nominee:
        You have been nominated and selected to appear in the 1974 edition of Who's Who In New Jersey, which is a compilation of biographical information on outstanding citizens of the State of New Jersey. To be considered for listing in this important publication, nominees must have distinguished themselves in business, government, or civic awareness within their own community. We believe you have so distinguished yourself.

        Who's Who In New Jersey has been pre-assigned a Library of Congress index number and will be filed there. It will also be filed in the New Jersey archives, and libraries throughout the state, and is made available to business and government leaders throughout the nation. Your biographical information being listed will be an asset to you for years to come, and will be available to researchers down through the years.

        Many organizations and many leaders throughout the state have worked with us over a period of months on this important publication. In order to assure correctness of your biographical information, please fill out the enclosed biographical data sheet and return immediately to our processing center in Atlanta, George, in the enclosed self addressed envelope. OF COURSE THERE IS NO COST OR OBLIGATION TO YOU IN ANY MANNER TO BE LISTED.

        Again, congratulations on being selected as one of New Jersey's outstanding citizens for 1974. You will be one of approximately five thousand people from New Jersey so honored, to appear in this edition.

    The letter was accompanied by a two-page biographical information form which requested detailed biographical information with respect to the nominee, including home and business address, current vocation, family relationships, civic activities, educational career summary, military duty, outstanding accomplishments, awards, decorations and citations.
    Inquiry has disclosed that a number of New Jersey attorneys have received this mail.
    The inquirer asks: (1) whether his completion of the biographical form will be regarded as unethical advertising, and (2) whether or not Who's Who in New Jersey is included in any list
designated as an approved law list.
    The answer to the second portion of the inquiry is negative. Who's Who in New Jersey does not appear on any ABA Approved Law List. With respect to the propriety of an attorney forwarding biographical information for publication in Who's Who in New Jersey, the inquirer is directed to DR 2-101(A):
        DR 2-101. Publicity in General
        (A)    A lawyer shall not prepare, cause to be prepared, use, or participate in the use of, any form of public communication that contains professionally self-laudatory statements calculated to attract lay clients; as used herein, "Public Communication" includes, but is not limited to, communication by means of television, radio, motion picture, newspaper, magazine, or book.

    Wise, Legal Ethics 18 (1966), indicates that a lawyer may answer an unsolicited inquiry from Who's Who. Reference is made to Informal Opinions 63 and 64 of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association. Those opinions state that it is not improper for a lawyer in good faith to fill out answers to applications from Who's Who, but not in such a way as to amount to advertising.
    A similar inquiry was addressed to the Florida Committee on Professional Ethics. That Committee's Opinion 61-46 (April 20, 1962) is to the effect that a lawyer may allow a biographical sketch of himself to be published in a volume called World 's Who's Who in Commerce and Industry, if he did not solicit inclusion and
if he is not required to buy a volume in order to have his biography included.
    This Committee sees nothing wrong in an attorney of this State permitting his name to be listed in a biographical reference book, as long as the listing is done in a suitable manner. Any attorney who decides to cooperate with such a reference directory must, however, give careful consideration to the potential problems.
    First, the success of the Who's Who publications have spawned numerous limitations, some of which are of questionable value. Each attorney, before responding to a solicitation, has a responsibility to ascertain the reputation of the publication in question, and whether it will be marketed and distributed in a manner compatible with the ethical proscriptions against advertising.
    A directory which is distributed primarily for reference purposes is consistent with the Code of Professional Responsibility, but one which is more aggressively marketed to the
general public may take on the character of a commercial directory, intended to publicize the services of those listed therein. Any publication which charges a fee for listing a biography or requires that the attorney purchase a copy of the publication would constitute an unethical form of advertising. See our Opinion 290, 97 N.J.L.J. 766 (1974).
    Second, any attorney who decides to respond to an inquiry from a biographical reference publication must be extremely careful about the content and tone of his response and the biography which is ultimately published. Care must be taken to avoid professionally self-laudatory statements calculated to attract clients, as prohibited by DR 2-101.
    Within the limitations above prescribed, it is the opinion of the Committee that the submission of biographical information for publication in Who's Who in New Jersey does not violate the above rule.

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