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87 N.J.L.J. 465ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
July 23, 1964
Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court
Advertising - Solicitation
A firm of attorneys inquires as to the propriety of an
advertisement to be published in a New Jersey periodical as
Attorneys, experienced in Negligence, Workmen's
Compensation and Real Property, seek to service for other
attorneys only, Pretrials, Motions, Depositions and
Workmen's Compensation Appearances in any county.
Canons of Professional Ethics, Canons 27 and 46, as prescribed
by the New Jersey Supreme Court, govern the answer to this inquiry.
Canon 27 provides:
It is unprofessional to solicit professional
employment by ... advertisements... .
Canon 46 provides an exception to the prohibited advertising
in these words:
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.
Confronted with an inquiry similar in many respects to the
instant question, the Committee on Professional Ethics and
Grievances of the American Bar Association analyzed the problem
Do the services listed in the proposed advertisement
constitute such a specialized legal service as is
contemplated by Canon 46?
All of the services listed in the above
advertisement are rendered by every general practitioner.
We are of the opinion that the services enumerated
cover too broad a range to come within the purview of the
phrase "specialized legal service" as contemplated by
Canon 46, and that the card in question constitutes
The Canons of the Association and the Opinions of
this committee ... condemn solicitation of professional
employment both from the lay public and other lawyers.
Canon 46 recognizes an exception in respect to notices of
a specialized legal service that will afford convenient
and beneficial information to lawyers who may desire to
obtain such a service. Being an exception, it should be
strictly construed; otherwise, the door will be thrown
open to objectionable advertising. Opinion 145 (1935).
A further guide to the resolution of inquires such as the one
under consideration is the current version of Canon 46 as revised
by the American Bar Association in 1956 as follows:
Notice to Local Lawyers.
A lawyer available to act as an associate of other
lawyers in a particular branch of the law or legal
service may send to local lawyers only and publish in his
local legal journal a brief and dignified announcement of
his availability to serve other lawyers in connection
therewith. The announcement should be in a form which
does not constitute a statement or representation of
special experience or expertness.
Although Canon 46 as revised by the American Bar Association
has not been adopted specifically by our Supreme Court, it
nevertheless serves as an aid in applying the old Canon 46 as above
Assuming that the attorneys making the inquiry are in fact
experienced by long or concentrated practice in the fields of law
in which they "seek to service for other attorneys only," the
advertisement would certainly "constitute a statement or
representation of special experience or expertness" proscribed by
the more recent American Bar Association's version of Canon 46.
Further, as to serving "Pretrials" for other attorneys, the rules
governing pretrials implicitly contemplate that the attorneys
having actual responsibility for the conduct of the case should be
personally present at the conferences if they are to be effective
in all respects.
In addition to these specific objections to the proposed
advertisement, there is a broader consideration that makes it
improper. Such advertisements and more aggressive variations
thereof run counter to the injunction of Canon 29 which requires
lawyers "at all times ... to maintain the dignity of the
We conclude that the proposed advertisement would be improper.
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