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                                         127 N.J.L.J. 753
                                        March 21, 1991


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Quoting the Statement of Another
Which, if Made by an Attorney, Would
be Considered False or Misleading

    This matter originated as a grievance filed by a member of the public against an attorney who had caused an advertisement to be published in a newspaper of general circulation. The grievance alleged, among other things, that the advertisement was unprofessional in that it contained a statement of self- aggrandizement. Specifically, the advertisement included the following statement: "[Respondent] was introduced by a talk show host as 'The best divorce lawyer in the country.'"
    Upon completing its initial review, this Committee determined that the advertisement violated RPC 7.1(a)(3). In lieu of formal action, a letter was sent to Respondent requesting that she cease and desist from making use of this or any other advertisement which includes comparative language.
    By way of reply, Respondent asserted that it was not she, but the talk show host, who had uttered the offending statement, and that she had merely employed it in her advertising campaign. The Committee was not persuaded and reiterated its request that she cease and desist from engaging in such advertising. Although Respondent ultimately complied, the Committee determined that this issue warranted a formal advisory opinion.

    An attorney may not do indirectly that which would otherwise be prohibited if done directly. By employing the quotation in her advertisement, Respondent adopted it as her own. It was the same as if she herself had claimed that she was the best divorce lawyer in the country. To have done so would have been to violate RPC 7.1(a)(3).
    An attorney is no less responsible for the content of an advertisement because the words were uttered by another. Consequently, we hold that an attorney may not employ endorsements, testimonials or other statements attributable to another in order to circumvent the Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorney advertising.

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