86 N.J.L.J. 617
Name of Attorney on
Investigator's Business Card
Inquiry has been made as to whether it is ethically proper for
an attorney to permit his name or that of his firm to be placed on
the business card of an investigator investigating facts pertaining
to professional matters for the attorney or his firm.
Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 27 reads in part:
It is unprofessional to solicit professional employment by circulars, advertisements, through touters or by personal communications or interviews not warranted by personal relations. Indirect advertisements for professional employment ... offend the traditions and lower the tone of our profession and are reprehensible; but the customary use of simple professional cards is not improper. ...
Not only should attorneys avoid unprofessional conduct, they should also avoid the appearance of such conduct. N.J. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 8, 86 N.J.L.J. 718 (1963).
The use of such cards by an investigator though seemingly for an innocent purpose could lead to abuses in many ways. Besides, the use of such cards might be taken as a representation that a layman was associated in the practice contrary to the spirit of the Canons of Professional Ethics, Ass'n. of the Bar, City of N.Y., Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinions 411 (1937), 341 (1935); A.B.A. Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances, Opinions 233 and 272 (1946).
Since it has also been determined that a lawyer's letterhead may not carry the name of a layman, Drinker, Legal Ethics 288 (1953), it would seem to follow that the reason for this is equally applicable to the subject of the instant inquiry.
There are, of course, other ways of identification besides the suggested means, without any possible abuse or misinterpretation.
The Committee concludes that the inquiry must be answered in the negative.