Link to original WordPerfect Document

                                            87 N.J.L.J. 465
                                            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 follows:
    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 thus:

        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 improper advertising.

        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 cited.

    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 profession... "
    We conclude that the proposed advertisement would be improper.

* * *

This archive is a service of Rutgers University School of Law - Camden